Gamewatch Interview with Naoki Yoshida On Patch 3.5 and More

Gamewatch has done an interview with the Producer and Director of FFXIV, Naoki Yoshida about the upcoming patch (3.5). They discuss how the patch will be split into two parts, go over the changes to the new Diadem, and talk about jumping potions.

For the original interview: click here

1. Patch 3.5 will be divided into multiple parts. The second part of the story coming in March
Q: The name “Omega” has been mentioned a few times in the trailer. Omega is currently buried under the Frontline map. In what way will Omega appear in the main story?

Y: The word “Omega” has been appearing as a keyword since patch 2.3 “Defenders of Eorzea”. During the last part of patch 3.4, Nero was doing something suspicious, and that suspicious something has to do with Omega. I think you can understand that from the trailer now. What will happen with Omega… For that you will need to check it for yourself when playing the patch.

Q: Is the main story divided into two parts this time, too?

Y: Yes. It’s divided into part 1 and part 2.

Q: Is only part 1 shown in the trailer?

Y: There are parts from part 2, but it’s made in such a way that there aren’t many spoilers.

Q: It seemed like the trailer touches upon a lot of core aspects of the story, but that’s still not much?

Y: There’s much more to come. When looking at the flow of events, first we have the part 1 of the patch on Jan 17, then we have the Frankfurt Fan Festival, and after that we have part 2. We made it in such a way so that the information connects nicely. There’s a lot of images that we cannot show until we do the opening keynote in Frankfurt. There’s one part of the trailer where there’s a lot of images flashing in a short period of time. There’s a lot of things that might surprise you there, so please do speculate.

Q: 2.5 had a lot of volume to it, and we got a warning before the cutscenes before they started because of their length. Will we see the same warning this time as well?

Y: I’m not really fond of the idea of watching something for a long time. Then it makes it no different from any TV show. So you can say that 2.55 was quite “irregular”. This time, the overall volume of part 1 and 2 will be the same as 2.5, but single cutscenes won’t be as long. Baelsar’s Wall will be a part of the main quest scenario, as well.

Q: You could say the players progresses the story by themselves?

Y: You could say something like that. There’s a lot of stuff that will make you say, “I Can’t believe they pulled this of in a real time rendered cutscene.” A lot of them could be pre-rendered, but we made them as real time rendered cutscenes. Last time, when Raubahn was fighting Ilberd, it will even transcend that scene.

Q: By the way, last time you divided the patch into two parts because it was too big in volume to include into only 2.5. Why did you divide it into two parts this time?
Y: It has nothing to do with big cliffhangers like the last one, but this time we intentionally divided it into two parts. The truth is, Part 2 will come after 3.5 and 3.55. The third season of The Feast will end with 3.55, we will add the continuation of the Anima weapons, etc. and after that Part 2 of the patch will come.

Q: Why is that?

Y: It was the first pre-expansion period for us last time, so there was a lot of things we could not predict. For example, when we rose the weekly limit of Poetics to 900. The reason for that is because of player feedback. A lot of players wanted to get equipment for their sub jobs, so they wanted the weekly limit removed completely. However, if we did that, we thought some players might get tired of grinding them too much, so we made the limit 900. A lot of people said that even 900 was a big number to achieve weekly anyways, and that putting the limit to 900 was a good idea, so I think we did good on that one. Therefore, this time, we have that put in our schedule.
This also has to do with feedback from last time. The release timing of Before the Fall, Part 2 might have been a bit too early, and with the turn of events that part 2 had, a lot of players said that they might have wanted for it to be released closer to the expansion due to the cliffhangers. That’s why we won’t put the main story in 3.55, but rather in a patch a little bit later when the players go through the content released in 3.55. Same goes for the release of the expansion.

Q: When will 3.55 and the patch after be released?

Y: 3.55 will be released in February, and the patch after is planned for March. Everything is ready for release. All we have to do now is release it at the right timing and we plan to look at the energy of the players for that.

Q: Do you think a lot of players will get excited?

Y: I think so. We have the Frankfurt FanFest in February, and when it comes to FFXIV, that even is also something like a patch. February will be the connecting tissue that will connect the future, Stormblood and the present. I think many players will get excited in February. In March we have part 2, and from April, we plan on releasing more quality information for Stormblood. Small patches will also be released.

Q: There wasn’t much talk about Ala Migho in the trailer. Will The Griffon appear in the story?

Y: The fact that the Warriors of Light will go to Ala Migho has already been announced, so of course, you will see him in the story. He is one of the key people, after all. The reason why he is not in the trailer is because of a scene we cannot show just yet.

Q: Will the main theme of part 1 be fighting with the Empire?

Y: It’s hard to say that it’s just one opponent. We already know what will happen in the future in Stromblood, and I can tell you it won’t be a smooth road. I love to troll, so the moment the road seems smooth, something will make it rough. We want to shuffle the content in a way that players will the story interesting after playing the game and knowing the information that was given to them pre-release.

Q: We saw Yugiri in the trailer after a long while. Was kind of missing her.

Y: She will have quite a role this time. The scenario team and the event team used a whole entire day because they were fighting over how Yugiri has to do a long-time-no-see greeting (laugh). How she is up front in the scenario after a long time and how she can’t just show up all of a sudden.

Q: What did she do up until now?

Y: She mainly did work with the Doman immigrants and was helping out in Limsa Lominsa, which helped the immigrants. She has a feeling of debt towards the three great nations, so it doesn’t make much sense if she were to appear as one of the main roles in the Ishgard chapter. She probably did work for Doma, Limsa and Revenant’s Toll in her own way. She suddenly comes back in the scenario, so we were a bit hesitant in that regard.

2. Zurvan will be like Hanaichimonme (a Japanese kid’s game)

Q: What kind of an enemy is Zurvan, the last of the Warring Triad?

Y: I don’t know how to describe it this time. Last time I described Sophia as brain training, but this time…

Q: He also has two faces like Sophia. Is it completely different?

Y: Yeah. How should I describe it… Maybe, hanaichimonme (a Japanese game kids play)… but young generations probably won’t understand that. There’s a lot of new aspects to the fight, including the cake-like field.

Q: What about difficulty?

Y: Normal mode will be the same as usual; you will finish it before you know it. As for Extreme, many players have finished The Creator Savage Tier 4, so we made it on the difficult side. With Dun Scaith and new Diadem coming, the average item level will grow fast. So if we were to make the difficulty similar to that of Sophia, players would be done with him pretty quickly.

Q: We had a lot of casual content up until now. Will this satisfy hard core players?

Y: I did say it is going to be on the difficult side, so I think it should. The difficulty will be higher than the usual difficulty.

Q: With the completion of the Warring Triad quests, will the story finish as well?

Y: Yes, it will finish. What will happen to Regula, and who is Unukalhai… everything will be revealed. For people who love to speculate about the connection with Hydaelyn and the Mother Crystal, the Void and the Parallel Worlds, I think this patch will give them a lot of good information.

Q: Can you give me more detail about the two new instanced dungeons?

Y: Baelsar’s Wall will be included into the main story quest. In the trailer, you can see many soldiers in Grand Company uniforms fighting. Some kind of an incident will happen at the Wall which you will have to go check.

Q: It’s been a while since we’ve been in a Garlean fort.

Y: I think a lot of players are already bored of running through Garlean forts, and during the live streams where we have shown a little bit of the dungeon, some players have commented that they feel like they could get Allagan Tomestones of Philosophy in the dungeon again so we tried to make the lighting and the overall atmosphere of the dungeon different from Praetorium and Meridianum. Also, you had to do a lot of walking in the 8-man dungeons. This time you won’t have to walk at all from the middle of the dungeon. We put in some “First Coil” situations as well, so I think it will feel good for the players to go full power. Finally, Garlean weapons will pop out, too, so the staff would be happy if players who like the old FF title would keep an eye out.

Q: What about Sohm Al?

Y: Last time, the players climbed Sohm Al after defeating Ravana. This time you will need to climb it down because of something. There’s lava behind Anyx Trine, and last time we didn’t really utilize that aspect of the mountain, so this time, we wanted you to feel warm, as it is Winter.

Q: Lava did jump above the player’s heads in the trailer.

Y: Actually, we haven’t done a dungeon with nature-esc features in quite a while. They are so hard to make. When it comes to buildings and built-by-human-hand dungeons, it is easy to put gimmicks inside them. However, when it comes to a cave that was made by nature, we have to be very careful on how the landscape changes and how the monsters pop. Both the graphics team and the design team have a hard time with these. At the same time, that’s why they are made so nicely. In Xelphatol, you could make the run faster if you destroyed the objects before killing the enemies. It had a lot of flexibility like that. For Sohm Al (Hard) we made best use of natural elements, as well as added elements of flexibility like the ones in Xelphatol.

3. Return of fights on airships in FFXIV

Q: The fight on an airship in Dun Scaith really felt nostalgic and very “Final Fantasy”like.

Y: The people in charge of the raid put a lot of strength into that fight. We wanted to march into Dun Scaith with the Sky Pirates right from the start. We really wanted to revive the Deathgaze fight in FFXIV and we really did our best to do so. I think it is very FFXIV-like that the moment Deathgaze appears, the handrail breaks into pieces (laugh).

Q: FFXIV’s hand-rails sure are fragile.

Y: They sure are! The moment I saw that the handrail breaks when Deathgaze APPEARS, not attacks, but appears, I started to laugh bitterly. The moment Deathgaze appears, he unleashes an attack that destroys the handrail with a bang. The players won’t experience situations where the handrail is there. With both Sophia and Leviathan, the fence is there in the first part, but this time it is gone from the start. Some may say that we don’t need to make the handrail at all, but it is our style to make it and then destroy it.

Q: I wonder how many will die.

Y: Up until now, we had a party of 8 and people fell one at a time. This time it might be 10 people at a time.

Q: At Sophia, there were instances where I was laughing because all 8 of us fell.

Y: If everyone followed the person who made a mistake and went to the wrong place, then yeah. Dun Scaith is the last chapter of the “Shadow of Mach” scenario. It is an Alliance raid after all, so we wanted to make it so that players can laugh.

Q: Is there a possibility that everyone falls at the same time?

Y: It is a possibility. You had to see us when we were at the start of the testing phase. One after another. The alliance bars became more black by the second. It was quite the scenery.

Q: Will we see familiar faces among the bosses?

Y: Mach and Amdapor used to be in war, and “Shadow of Mach” touches upon that quite a bit. The clown that appears in Amdapor Keep (Hard) will show up and so will Diabolos, who was sealed in the depths of Lost City. You will be able to see what some aspects of what happened between Mach and Amdapor in the past, so people who like lore will get very excited. Also, we made Ferdiad a trickster boss, like a real jester, so please look forward to it. I’ll just say, watch out for color of the orbs he juggles.

4. 3 base factors for Diadem

Q: What changes will we see in the Diadem?

Y: Before I talk about new features, I would like to talk a bit about the old Diadem. There was a lot of discussion among players and staff on how FFXIV is played. FFXIV has strict rules written into the gameplay and it is shown quite strongly. We received a lot of feedback from players that played games such as FFXI, that XIV’s dungeons are boring and that you can’t get lost or find hidden treasure. However, for example with Toto Rak, there are multiple roads you can take, and if the tank were to try and take the longer route, he would get scolded by the players that there is a shorter one. To avoid that, we removed the “unimportant” parts. People are busy nowadays, and if you can’t finish a dungeon in 20 minutes, you really won’t have time to play other content. We thought about that when we made FFXIV.

Q: So there are players that don’t like that style.

Y: There are players that don’t feel free enough and feel bored. We received feedback that it’s fine that dungeons are linear but that they wanted content where they can get that feeling of freedom. Some of the staff shared that opinion, too. During the development of 1.0, most of the staff members didn’t play WoW, so 1.0 was filled with that kind of content. We wanted to try out whether or not that kind of content was still possible in ARR, which was brought to the global standard of MMOs. That’s what lead to the first Diadem.
Even during the development of Diadem, everyone wanted to voice out what they thought was fun in an MMO. Some said that there is no fun in a game where you can’t do combos on raid bosses, while some said that grinding mobs that seem like they can have good loot is fun and very casual. Some said that players need at least some kind of objective, otherwise it would turn into a warzone. That’s why we tried to make a zone without any specific rules on how to play the content.

Q: In the end, it didn’t turn out too great.

Y: I can’t say specifically what was wrong, or that it was unplayable. It’s just that there was too large of gap among players, who were used to FFXIV’s design by then. Some people wanted to grind in one spot the whole time, some wanted to get the spoils and finish it as soon as possible, while some just wanted to do gathering. And it’s hard to unify players in that regard. We found out that even though it had rules, having the freedom of doing anything you wanted just didn’t work out. We also didn’t balance the item level of the equipment or pop times of monsters too well, so by the time we made the appropriate adjustments, players lost their interest. Also, even though the map was huge, doing dinosaur hunting all the time really didn’t feel like doing exploration.

Q: A lot of problems became clear.

Y: “Match with players with the same goal”, “Guaranteed minimal reward” and “Feeling of exploration”. With these three things as the base, we tried to recreate the feeling of freedom, yet again. Also, the reason why we were making adjustments for half a year is because we think that one fun factor of Diadem was players gathering in one spot. So this time we even better use of that aspect.

Q: How will the new Diadem ultimately look like?

Y: First, when you enter, flying is unlocked right from the start. This time you will constantly receive telegrams from House Haillenarte which will give you objectives. For example, please investigate a point in the NE area, or please bring me an x amount of something from this mob. With that as a guide, you will explore the islands. After finishing a set amount of objectives, you will be returned to the base and receive a certain amount of scrips, tomestones, etc.

Q: Ah, that’s the guaranteed minimal reward.

Y: While doing those objectives, you will see regional FATEs pop. By sidetracking, you can get bonus rewards or maybe treasure.

Q: Monsters won’t drop treasure chests anymore?

Y: Monsters will drop them as well. However, this time you will receive a new kind of item which you will exchange for a lottery reward. (like the Palace of the Dead). If you want to finish with the Diadem quickly, you can exit it as soon as you’re done, or if you want to stay, you can stay with the remaining players.

Q: What about people who want to gather?

Y: Gatherers and battle jobs will have a different entrance this time. Gatherers will be able to make parties that consist only of gatherers. You can also change into a battle class, finish the exploration and then return to gathering if you want.

Q: So you can change to a battle class inside even in a party of gatherers?

Y: Yes. The matching is divided so that players with similar goals are in the same party.

Q: How many objectives will you need to do?

Y: Four. It won’t take you 20 minutes.

Q: First you clear the objectives and then you go from one content to another?

Y: Something like that. You can re-enter and do the objectives again. Or maybe 3 players have left and you do FATEs with the remaining 5. It is designed so that after you finish with the objectives you receive, you can play freely with the remaining players, until the time limit of 60 minutes runs out.

Q: What will the boss fight from the trailer look like?

Y: When the color of the sky of the area changes, you will be able to enter the mysterious ruins. The boss fight is something you haven’t seen so far in FFXIV. You will need at least 4 parties to defeat it. People who played “Everquest” might feel nostalgic.

Q: And what if you go with less than 4 parties?

Y: Shouts will be heard in the entire area, so in case you don’t have enough members, you can call for help, or maybe let the area know you started fighting and that people should gather up.

Q: Are there any requirements to enter the zone?

Y: There are no requirements. If you want to go with 9 parties, you can. We want to make use of this feature in the upcoming Eureka.

5. We need more discussion on the jumping potion

Q: You posted a long forum post about jumping potions the other day. What was the intent behind the timing of posting?

Y: After an interview at Las Vegas, many players have been doing a lot of discussing about the jumping potion. However, because the system behind the jumping potion is not well known, there was a lot of noise, but not much moving forward. Also many players thought of the problem as black and white, which lead to a lot of fighting. Because players are discussing the future of FFXIV, I wanted to explain the jumping potion system we currently have in place for the Chinese and Korean versions of the game.

Q: The jumping potion really divides the players?

Y: There are players that think that all new players will buy jumping potions and get to level 60. I wanted to clear that misconception up. Also, there is no gathering or crafting jumping potions, so it won’t have any influence on the economy of the game. Besides, even if players use the jumping potion, they won’t be at the level cap immediately. They still have to do the last part of leveling by themselves. The price of the potion is also quite high, so not everyone will be able to buy it, nor will it be given out lightly. We have data from the Korean and Chinese versions, too, so we will make final decision by the end of January on whether we will implement the potion in 4.0 or at a later time.

Q: Does the development team want the potion implemented?

Y: Well, we are developing it regardless, because we will need to upgrade the already existing potion to a 4.0 version for the Korean and Chinese version of the game. The problem is whether or not to release it in the global version.

Q: Are you giving out free potions to new players in the Chinese and Korean versions?

Y: No, but we did have a campaign where new players could buy the potions cheaper once, but that also had a price and was limited time only. Players playing the free trial can’t use the potion. It’s made for people who have the motivation to play the game for a long time. In regards to the implementation, we had a lot of discussion with Chinese businesses which have experience in the Chinese market, so it went quite well. In Korea, there was a lot of discussion about the player gap before it was implemented, but the implementation happened without any problems. I think it will be the same for the global version, but we will know the facts only if we do so.

Q: In Wow, many players gave up because they were suddenly level 90 or 100 and had no idea what to do. How will you handle that if it happens to FFXIV?

Y: When it comes to FFXIV, the Main Scenario Quests are in some ways tutorials because it is based on solo play. I also know that there are players who want the users of the potions to be forced into doing dummy trials.

Q: I think there will be people who won’t want to use the Duty Finder because they are scared as gained 60 levels in an instant.

Y: After using the jump potion, all of the dungeons will be unlocked automatically up to that level. If you want to train, you can go to low level dungeons. Also there is the Hall of the Novice. There is feedback (suggestions) for The Hall of the Intermediate, too, but I think that for this case, Hall of the Novice is much more useful. Players will get to understand skill rotations at some point or the other, but completely new players usually get confused with concepts such as avoiding enemy attacks, or keeping/gaining hate from enemies. I think it’s necessary to have some kind of guidance in that aspect.

Q: So it’s good to play low level content to learn how to play if you use the potion.

Y: People who usually but the jumping potion are players who have high motivation to play it. It’s usually players who have experience with MMO’s. Completely new players usually get to level 30 or 40 before they buy the potion, and I think by that time, many of them are used to the gameplay. Many players also do research on the rotations. These are just data results, and I’m not trying to tell players to not discuss it. If players really don’t want the potion, we won’t implement it with the release of 4.0.

Q: Is there any chance the potion will come before 4.0?

Y: No.

Q: If it were to be implemented, it would be at the timing of 4,0’s release?

Y: If we were to implement it before the release, many people would think it’s Pay to Win. WoW did that with Legion. They implemented the potion before the release of the expansion, but they can do that because they are used to jumping potions. That is not the case for FFXIV. It would destroy the game.

Q: So it’s definitely not coming beforehand.

Y: Yes. The merit of doing that however is that you would be matched with people who got used to the game to some extent and don’t have to start 4.0 completely fresh. However, we won’t be doing that this time.

Q: Do you have any message for the players?

Y: It’s still before the FanFestival, so I can’t say I’m relaxed. (laugh) But there will be a lot of new information coming at Fan Fest. There’s a lot of things that we want to do that are new and haven’t been done before.
I’m sorry to say this, but part 1 of 3.5’s story will end with a cliffhanger. I hope we can share the excitement for 4.0 together. Please look forward to the new information we have in store for you.
In 3.5, there is a large amount of casual content. There will also be new equipment for gatherers and crafters with special effects. I think it will give a good closure to the 3.x series and a good opening for 4.0. With the end of the game release rush, many players will be coming back to the game, so it’s great timing for 3.5.
Also, the Returning Player System will also be implemented in 3.5. They will be able to use the Beginner’s chat and get help from Mentor players. I think it’s a good strategy to give players a smooth return.
Lastly, the cross-world party finder is also coming, so there won’t be so much need to be on high populated servers. Entire Free Companies might do server transfers to lower populated servers to seek free housing lots. It is time to start preparation for changes of gameplay elements. We are working very hard to deliver Stormblood by early summer. 2017 will be challenging but we will do our best.