During the Tokyo Fan Festival, Naoki Yoshida and Kenji Sudo talked about some of the FFXIV battle content during the developer’s panel. They mainly talked about the Binding Coil of Bahamut, Alexander, and Titan.
The panel started by Kenji Sudo introducing himself to the audience. Kenji Sudo used to work on games such as Last Ranker, Crimila Girls and 7th Dragon 2020 and is currently working as one of the battle designers for Final Fantasy XIV. In the screenshot bellow, you can see which content he has worked on.
The main theme of this panel was raiding content from 2.0 to 3.5. They were talking about the thought process and the results, as well as things they are reflecting on during the panel.
Their first theme was Titan. Even though Titan isn’t necessarily considered a raid, it was one of the first pieces of content that Sudo had made for Final Fantasy XIV. When he joined the team, he was expecting to be given work on a primal that is good-looking, or rather, some primal he would like to be looking at, but alas… he got Titan. When creating Titan, hard mode he unintentionally made mechanics that made players fall constantly, making him wonder why people can’t stay alive. He never put lag into consideration, hence why it can be quite difficult to clear for players that have even a bit of lag. One of the examples is the short cast time for Titan’s ability Weight of the Land.
He said that this was an eye opener for him, making him rethink the length of cast times. If you pay attention carefully, and some players might have noticed it, Weight of the Land has the fastest cast time for a mechanic that requires a response from the player. After Titan was released, he decided to never make boss’ cast times shorter than Titan’s Weight of the Land.
When he started creating Titan (Extreme), a bit of his sadistic nature came to life. He now intentionally wanted players to fall off the edge. He made the Upheaval mechanic, made Landslide go 5-ways, and made Titan use Landslides at times when players are trying to dodge other mechanics such as Bomb Boulders.
Sudo: “Oh it was very fun creating this. Especially since I knew that players are going to fall down.”
When he was invited to be a guest at Fan Festival, he looked at his old data and found a file named “History of Titan”, which was a file that contained scrapped plans for The Navel. If you look carefully at the screenshot, you can see that he worked on it for approximately 4 months (Hard mode). While it takes him about a month or two to finish a primal fight now, at the time, it took him a longer period due to lack of experience.
Yoshida: “Members usually start with designing dungeon bosses when they join the team and then slowly progress to bigger content. When they do primals for the first time, it usually does take them around 4 months to finish the project.”
The next slide shows some of the scrapped ideas Sudo had for Titan. The left picture explains how he wanted Titan to flip the ground itself, breaking the field underneath him (like older Final Fantasy Titans), but this was impossible to implement in a MMO, so he scrapped the idea.
The right picture shows an illustration of a scrapped mechanic where walls of stone would close in on players, crushing them if they are not destroyed in time. The dot in the lower right corner indicates a bomb that would move in between the walls. The bomb became the base for the Bomb Boulder mechanic, while the walls eventually turned into the Gaol mechanic.
The Second Coil of Bahamut
The next topic of the panel was the Second coil of Bahamut. The main concept of this raid was “A true raid”, as they weren’t satisfied with the First Coil of Bahamut, as they lacked the experience when creating it. They put a goal that they needed to make the Binding Coils more “raid-like”.
They used the next slide as the “true battle concept” as a joke, since the Second Coil presented a wall for many players, resulting in many raid groups disbanding.
The next slide represents the first raid boss he has worked on, Rafflesia. He describes how it was very exciting for him to see his concepts come to life.
Zooming in on the upper left corner of the concept art, you can see the description and details about the boss. It is hard to read it from the screenshot due to the font being so small. The text says:
Concept for Rafflesia:
- A monstrous plant whose bodies and vines are clad in thorns.
- Modeled after the rafflesia flower, with powerful poisons, pollen attacks, and nasty status effects.
- The embodiment of the vile toxins and thorns seen in plants.
- It should also use a special sap to lure in and manipulate bugs (bees, etc.).
- Spouting poisons from its mouth and consuming various things.
- Spread seeds around the field, creating thorn patches when they grow.
- The look of a plant that’s undergone abnormal growth from dark matter.
- Carnivorous. Though it normally appears docile and slow, it’s incredibly fast when targeting its prey.
These are only general ideas, but it should have these kinds of attacks:
- Swinging vine attack: frontal area attack with vines
- Rampage: violently flails its vines about hitting everything around it
- Prey: Eat a player of monster (suck them in)
- Spit: It expels whatever it ate.
- Leaf Dance: an attack hitting the entire battlefield with a flurry of flower petals.
- Sprout of Thorns: plants a sprout on the ground. eventually it grows, creating a patch of thorns
- Sap: cover a target with sap
- Mustard bomb: attack with a deadly poison, anyone that moves dies immediately
- Bug: have insects follow after a target. The target dies if they don’t move.
Probably the most memorable mechanic from Rafflesia was the Blighted Bouquet mechanic which instantly killed the player if they were moving after the cast was done. Originally, while the tier was still in development, the mechanic didn’t have the pollen indicator (field full of pollen while Rafflesia is casting).
Sudo: “Originally, I didn’t put any indication, except for the casting gauge, that the mechanic was coming but Yoshida told me to put something that indicates it while we were eating pasta.”
Yoshida: “When we were testing the fight with the team, Sudo explained the mechanics to me, giving me a whole list of mechanics and phases and how to do them. He specifically told me to watch out for the Bouquet. “Don’t move! If you move you die! Just watch the cast bar and it should be fine.” he said. We started testing. I was trying to output as much DPS as I can, concentrating on casting Fire and entering the thorns so that I don’t get sucked in and all of a sudden, BAM! I was dead. Then I got scolded by Sudo: “Didn’t I tell you what you need to do moments ago?!” Later that day, we went to eat pasta with the team and told him: “Yeah, you know about the Bouquet mechanic…? Yeah, add some kind of indication that it’s coming…” (laughter).”
Sudo: “Well… Even with the indication, people still die. (laugh)”
Yoshida: “There’s no need to say that!!”
Another interesting fact is that this is the first boss that had two strategies that split the statics into two categories. The ones which did the so-called “correct method” and the ones that did the “zerg method” when it came to dealing with the slimes and slug mechanic. Prior bosses had different types of strategies, but the division was never so clear as with the first turn of the Second Coil of Bahamut.
Moving on to Turn 2, they had to mention the Cursed Voice mechanic which wiped many groups. In the Japanese side of the community, not doing the mechanic properly even had its own phrase, which could be roughly translated as “terrorizing by petrification”.
There is one question Sudo asked to the players that were stuck at this tier because of the mechanic: “How did you manage to make it past Allagan Rot?!” He thought that players who have successfully finished the second turn of the First Coil of Bahamut shouldn’t have problems with doing the Cursed Voice mechanic because they were used to managing their de-buffs… but he couldn’t be more wrong.
Another mechanic that characterized the second turn was the Renaud mechanic. The reason why they mentioned this at the panel is because they unintentionally made the fight require certain jobs, in this case Summoner. While it could have been done with Black Mage, which they used when they were testing the fight without many problems, the players found out that Summoner is a better job to deal with it, which brought many instances in which people asked Black Mages to turn into Summoners.
When looking back, for Sudo, the Renaud mechanic is the Top 3rd, and I quote, “shit mechanic” that has been implemented into FFXIV. And for the note, his Top 1st is the infamous Nisi, while 2nd is the Cursed Voice mechanic.
Sudo: “During a welcome party for newcomers to the team, one of the new planners told me that he uses Turn 2 (which worked on Nidhogg and Alexander, the Creator Turn 2) as an example of what NOT to do with content.”
For Turn 3, they didn’t say too much, except that Sudo didn’t like that people used macros during the fight.
Sudo: “It is perfectly fine when people use explanation macros before the fight, but for Turn 3, many used macros DURING it. I didn’t like that, so I decided to never make a fight that would encourage that, again.”
Turn 4 was a memorable fight for not only us, but for the team as well. It was full of excitement; the changing field, the change of BGM, fast paced mechanics… Sudo states that, even though the fight has its good sides and bad sides, it is something he won’t be able to pull off ever again. He finds pride in having made it.
The concept for this turn was “THE true raid”, which is why it has a lot of unforgiving mechanics right from the start. If you didn’t do the Meteor mechanic right, right from the start, you could’ve wiped your entire party in a matter of seconds. Just for the info, the meteor mechanic in Turn 4 became the base for the later meteor mechanics such as the one in the Ozma fight. Later they decided to add the field markers, as well as unifying the types (Turn 4 had two types of meteors) to adjust the difficulty. Also, interestingly enough, Turn 4 was the first turn to see players use spread out macros for the Meteor Streams.
The Golem phase divided the community’s raid groups into two, where some groups used the so-called Blue Garter strategy, while some used the Lucrezia strategy. The Blue Garter strategy made players gather at the center of the field and when the meteor icon popped above their characters heads, they had to drop the meteor at an outer part of the field. On the other hand the Lucrezia strategy had players synchronize their circling around the edge of the field.
The Blue Garter strategy was the intended strategy for the fight, so they were caught by surprise when Lucrezia came up with a strategy that they didn’t even think could be a possibility. Sudo also states that he was very happy that the Blue Garter team, which took the World 1st spot, used the strategy they intended for players to do.
By the way, both Yoshida and Sudo cleared Turn 4 for the first time using the Lucrezia strategy.
The last phase of the fight included the Dreaded Lightning mechanic which, yet again, made the Japanese side of the community come up with a special phrase for not doing the mechanic properly. And you guessed it; it’s “Terrorizing by Thunder”.
Yoshida: “There’s too much terrorizing in content you make!”
Another mechanic that players found memorable was the Cauterize mechanic, which was the hardest mechanic to do at the time. You had to watch the field and the positions of the dragons while doing Nael’s mechanics, which certainly wasn’t easy to do. Cauterize was actually the first mechanic they came up with for Turn 4.
Also, one of the abilities Nael used was Bahamut’s Favor which included 5 fast thrusts to the tank by her spear. This mechanic is used in the phase before the last one, but in that phase it includes only 2 thrusts, and the reason why they made it into 5 in the last phase is because they wanted to show how Neal’s excitement for gaining Bahamut’s power. The whole reason for the final phase being chaotic as it is, is Nael’s excitement for gaining the power.
Yoshida: “Wait. Why did Nael use a Fire dragon and an Ice dragon? If she had only, let’s say, the Fire dragon, he could’ve wiped out the Warriors of Light without much problem.”
Sudo: “Oh, that was because she was too excited and drunk with power that she didn’t pay attention to who she is dragging into the fight. She just started inviting random dragons.”You! Come on out!””
Yoshida: (Chokes of laughter)
Sudo: (sarcastically): “She was too drunk with power.”
Yoshida: (still laughing) Well… It does make sense, when you think about it. Her flying and jumping around… I see!”
Looking back at the Second Coil now, Sudo says he might have overdone it a bit. He also says that the development of the Turns was quite mentally exhausting, where Yoshida immediately responded with: “That’s what the players should be saying, not you!”. The Second Coil was also one of the reasons why Alexander: Gordias required such high DPS because, at the time, Sudo thought that the only thing that could stop players from clearing the content fast was having high DPS checks.
The Final Coil of Bahamut
Moving on to the Final Coil, they changed their concepts on what a raid should be. Rather than it being intense, the main point of the raids was to make it so that it is easier for players to clear them as they increase their item level. In other words, so that anyone can clear it, if they have strong enough gear.
They had a different approach when it came to balancing. They made a few tweaks after initial adjustments, such as giving the boss more HP for the top players.
Due to them trying to balance it even better than before, the amount of scrapped data was the largest up until that point. If you look at the slide below, you can see the comparison between the amount of scrapped files for the Final Coil and the Second Coil, and clearly the prior has much, much more.
All of the bosses in the Final Coil were modeled after dragons, except for Phoenix. It was decided that Phoenix would be the pre-final boss, and Bahamut would be the final boss, long before the Final Coil was even in development.
When creating the last turn, Bahamut Prime, they wanted to show the extent of his power. Rather than making the fight difficult, they concentrated on making Bahamut’s abilities destructive, befitting for a true king of dragons. A good example of that is Terra Flare.
For Terra Flare you had to stand on the neurolink to reduce damage AND use the tank Limit Break 3 ability, just to survive.
Just a little bit of interesting information; a lot of the mechanics from different boss fights have scripts like the one below (which is for Terra Flare). For example the Knights of the Round fight has a huge script because of the sheer amount of NPCs popping around and doing mechanics.
Another memorable mechanic from the Final Coil, Turn 4 was Akh Morn.
Sudo: “I included this ability to show that Bahamut is pissed off, because you were able to survive his most powerful attack. That’s why he uses it a few times in a row. Oh, and I also wanted to create a place where I can use Hallowed Ground with my Paladin.”
Overall, Sudo was very pleased with how the raid turned out. He says the balance was just right, he had fun with developing the content, as well as balancing at, and was able to see the patch being implemented with a refreshed mind. One of the things that proved that the balancing was good is that they didn’t need to do any adjustments at a later time when implementing the Echo into the fights.
But… Other problems arose. It only took 5 days for the world 1st group to beat the Final Coil, which made Yoshida angry.
Yoshida: “I do trust my team, and I do think the overall balance was great when I look back now. The first and the second turn were cleared according to our expectations. After they were beaten, we looked at the DPS logs of players for the third turn (yes, we can see your DPS) and thought that it should take at least 3 more days for players to beat it. At the time, I was constantly asked by the media about my thoughts on when the Final Coil will be cleared, and I hate answering that question, because different players love to play at different paces. Also if it were cleared too fast, I would be scolded by the players that the raid was too easy, while if it were too slow, that the raid isn’t balanced very well… so I was under a lot of pressure at the time. So when they told me that the it should take at least 2 days for it to be beaten I went home relieved. But, the next morning, when I came to the office I got the news that it was beaten, so I flipped. (laugh) I seriously thought the Turn was bugged, so we went and checked and found out that it was purely because the players were very good.”
At that time, they thought they had to raise the difficulty up a notch, which lead to the birth of the next raid monstrosity…
With this raid, they wanted to create a challenge that would take the top players at least a month to clear. The reason why they made the difficulty so high was because of the feedback they received from players, as well as their own desires to make raids more challenging. At the time, they thought the Final Coil might have been a bit too easy for players. Also, with the introduction of the Normal mode for the raids, they didn’t think kicking up the difficulty would be too much of a problem for the players.
Alexander: Gordias received a lot of mixed reviews from players, especially when talking about Turn 3. Many dreaded the fight and many loved it, as well. Gordias was difficult right from the start, with the infamous Faust.
Sudo: “Faust was a type of fight that could be put together in 30 minutes. You have boss who kicked hard and have trash mobs pop all of the time. Mechanic-wise, it isn’t a very exciting fight, but people loved him for some reason. I never thought he would become so popular.”
Sudo (talking about Turn 3): “I had a friend who played monk tell me that he is sick and tired of looking at Pepsi Man’s face and that he’s been looking at it for 4 months already (sadistic laugh).”
Sudo: “All in all, while it did receive a lot of mixed feedback, I personally think that Gordias (Savage) was worthy of the Savage title.”
Thordan’s Reign, Knights of the Round
Difficulty wise, they wanted to make Knights of the Round (KotR), somewhere in between extreme Primals’ difficulty and Gordias Turn 3’s difficulty. Because many players were stuck at Turn 3, they wanted to make the rewards useful to players who wanted to beat the Turn.
The main concepts behind the fight (not only the extreme version, but the normal, as well) come from the Legend of King Arthur and The Knights of the Round. They wanted to incorporate that into the world of FFXIV. Thordan represents King Arthur while the sword represents Excalibur. The FFXIV flavor added to the fight was the Dragon Eye.
They also used FFVII’s Knights of the Round summon for the base of how the 12 knight pop into the field and use their mechanics. Sudo states that he watched the summon animation many times to study it, and to make similarities. If you watch the FFXIV’s fight carefully, you can see many similarities between the two.
Alexander: Midas and Alexander: The Creator
Due to time restrictions, they couldn’t discuss too much about Midas and The Creator.
When making Midas, they wanted to keep the difficulty of Gordias but didn’t want to make the DPS checks so strict. To balance it out, they made the mechanics much more punishing, which required a lot of movement and response from the player. Also, looking back now, the HP checks might have been a little bit too harsh.
Sudo: “I play raids with my wife. We cleared the Creator without any problems. We started playing together from Midas, and my wife commented that THE mechanic from Midas turn 2 is something above human capabilities (laugh).”
Yoshida: “I know your wife plays FFXIV and I also know she knows you are one of the developers for the game. She doesn’t know which department you work in, right?”
Sudo: “Yeah, I didn’t tell her.”
Yoshida: ”She is watching right now, right?”
Sudo: “She should be somewhere around here.”
Yoshida: “Oh she came to Fan Fest? Are you sure you’re going to be OK?”
Sudo: “I’m not sure about if I’m going to be OK or not, but when she told me that this is something out of human capability I simply told her I’ll let the team know (laugh).”
Yoshida: (laugh) “Are you sure it’s not “destroyer of families”, not “destroyer of raid groups”?”
Sudo: “Well I did watch her struggle right next to me.”
Yoshida: “She might be boiling over right now.”
Sudo: “I wonder if I still have a place to go home to…”
Yoshida: (chokes of laughter)
The Creator is the raid that the team is the most satisfied with. Balance wise, while it may be easy for some players, many have started raiding because the difficulty isn’t too high. Balance-wise, they think the Creator is where they should be at.
Yoshida: “When I get feedback that the raid was too easy to beat, I think to myself: OK, we have done it just right!”
This concluded the developer’s panel. Sudo will be responsible for the 3rd and 4th Turn of the Omega raid in Stormblood, which is due to release on June 20, 2017. Sudo comments that they will aim for difficulty similar to that of the Creator for Turns 1 to 3, and maybe make the 4th Turn a tad more difficult. Yoshida also added that the 4th Turn of Omega Savage will have something special that will only be seen in the 4th turn.
I think it is fair to say that we can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in the upcoming expansion!