During the North American media tour, Avalonstar (Bryan & Jen) had the oppurtunity to sit down with Naoki Yoshida and ask him some questions.
Avalonstar (Bryan & Jen): Since the announcement of the end of PS3 support, there’ve been some welcome quality of life additions (duty list showing queue times, etc). How much freedom has dropping the PS3 granted the development team and what are some of the smaller/nicer quality of life additions you’ve planned?
Yoshida: To be quite honest with you, I’m not very fond of the whole sort of “getting excited” or “being happy” about PS3 support ending. Of course this is strictly speaking a very personal opinion of mine, but with trying to revamp Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 to A Realm Reborn, we feel we would have not been able to get to this point had it not been for the support from the PS3 players. For us, rather than this being a kind of “goodbye” or “good riddance,” it’s more like “thank you so much for your support over all this time.” I just wanted to get that out there and be clear about that.
Looking back from a developer perspective having the PS3 as one of the platforms that we support, I don’t think we felt that much of a restriction when creating new content. But honestly speaking, for me it’s more on the PC platform with the 32-bit OS and the memory capacity not being up to snuff. And I’m itching… and I’m hoping people will switch over to the 64-bit OS soon.
But with the PS3 platform. There was always an issue around load times, not the memory capacity, but load times. The access to the hard disk, its speed was a bit on the slower side. So we were noticing that it does take a bit longer to read and load all the NPC models, the maps. So that was something that the development team couldn’t really do anything on their end to sort of improve it, so we would have to constantly pay attention to the loading speed and making sure that we are reaching the minimal, or setting it to the lowest, so we can accommodate for the PS3.
But with PS3 platform support stopping and phasing out, it did allow for us to speed up on certain things. That’s why you’ve notice that we are making the ground mount speed faster and we did not have to be too concerned about our caps and load speeds. Instead of what content we can provide, I think there’s going to be more improvement seen and usability and quality-of-life as you’ve mentioned.
I think our next sort of challenge or issue that we’re going to have to look at would not be the PlayStation 4, but the PC and lower-end machines and their specs and how far we accommodate them. No point in using 32-bit, I’m begging, there’s no point in doing so.
As you’ve mentioned before, people were very happy with the inventory expansion. Will retainer inventory be expanded in the same way? Is that something we can expect?
In terms of the inventory of the retainer, unfortunately we do not have any plans at the moment. Of course increasing the number of retainers you can hire might be something that can be considered. But expanding on the capacity of the retainer itself is not being planned for at all.
With retainer inventory, it’s a matter of duplication so that your retainer’s items won’t be lost, or split up, or have any sort of issues with it. Of course it’s not technically impossible to increase the capacity, it is something that we have to be very careful about managing.
If we were to expand it without great consideration, it would affect the responsiveness of the retainer. It does affect the responsiveness, the sort of data back and forth between the server and the client and we’ll sort’ve delay if we’re not mindful of how we expand the inventory. And so you might end up with a case where you’re moving inventory out of your retainers possession, it might take a full second to respond. So we are not really able to increase the capacity at this point.
Hopefully it will help, it might not be a full replacement but, the development team is currently considering working on an app for the smartphone where you can go in without having to log in to the game itself but be able to manage the inventory of your retainers through that.
What is the one addition in Stormblood that you’ve been waiting to add since you took over the development of FFXIV?
Swimming and diving. (laughter)
For flying also as for swimming and diving, as an MMO that we have available to play globally, it is something that I have always wanted to include so now that we are able to include it in Stormblood, I’m really glad.
But now I have the challenge of thinking of what I should do next.
In the past you’ve talked about “Free Company Alliances,” and we actually have a Free Company that’s growing to the point where we think it might be better to have multiple Free Companies. Would you think about adding features to link multiple Free Companies together: such as linkshells comprised of multiple FCs that can be automatically created?
First and foremost we don’t intend on having one single character belong to multiple different free companies at the same time. At the reason why we don’t do that is we’re worried about breakup within the community; also managing the free company chest and the inventory that’s within it or if you are in multiple different free companies people might notice that you’re not as active in a certain group and people pointing that out.
But to join a sort of Free Company Alliance, say you designate a “Moogle” alliance and have different free companies that belong to that group that concept is already there.
So the concept is already there, but right now task-wise we’re focusing on blurring the lines between the worlds, like cross-worlds. So being able to connect via linkshell to members within the same data center but different worlds and stuff like that. So in terms of actual task progression, I’m afraid we’re not doing anything at the moment.
Along the lines of the “world-less” tasks that we’re doing, we’re also considering joining Free Companies cross-world, and trying to work to see what other other “world-less” sort of directions we can take and how to address them. So we’re not able to work particularly on Free Company Alliance matters just yet and it might be some time before we get back to it.
As a player of both the PS4 and PC versions, it has been really difficult to port HUD settings from PC to PS4. Any thoughts about being able to import HUD settings on PS4 or making these settings available server-side?
We’re not… not giving it a thought. We’re definitely thinking about it. But we would have to set up one new server just for that. For example if you’re at an event and you wanted to jump on and play with your characters, having those server-side setups available so you can immediately download your character at the event venue is very advantageous and I recognize that.
It might be something that’s more long term, in terms of considering and moving forward. But it’s definitely not not being discussed. But it could also come unexpectedly so [please look forward to it].
We’ve only been able to directly engage in combat with Ascians in A Realm Reborn. In Heavensward, they took a passive role, being more like puppet masters. Can we expect them to continue to affect things from afar or do you see us once again taking them on directly?
In Stormblood, they might actually be stepping further back compared to Heavensward.
With Stormblood, we wanted to focus on the conflict of interpersonal relationships: man vs. man, how your personal values are different, and the conflict and friction within that. So the Ascians may take another step back in terms of where their positioning is for the narrative of Stormblood.
Rather than having them “flicker in the background” so to speak, it is something that we do need to consider whether we have the Ascians come back and you fight them full-on, or if we’re not taking that route it would be interesting to have them hinted at and driving on like that. It is something that we definitely have to consider.
[Yoshi-P logs out of the game on the PC next to us exclaiming that the PC fan was too noisy.]
It was announced yesterday that players will more easily be able to interact with NPCs while flying. Are there any plans around allowing players to stay mounted while talking to NPCs or accepting levequests?
Because Final Fantasy XIV is very scenario-driven we get requests, even from the development team, to have the character gesture and perform actions themselves. So, of course, we do have to consider the character’s emoting or actions versus convenience. It will still take some time. We don’t want to jump into having all the story-driven parts taken out for convenience. It’s probably going to be a long process.
In today’s gameplay we got to explore a lot of the Far East and it’s really hitting us how sort of expansive it is. Before today’s play, I had really in my mind more about Ala Mhigo. I’m wondering what percentage of the story is devoted to Ala Mhigo? Do we spend a considerable amount of time in the Far East?
I think, 50/50. (Lots of thinking on Yoshi-P’s end). I think it’s safe to assume it’s approximately 50/50. Maybe actually Ala Mhigo may have a little bit more in terms of percentage. The reason why we didn’t feature Ala Mhigo in our hands on is because that so much of the architecture and the structures are already quite spoiler-ish. We didn’t want to spoil the story for you!
Just by going to certain areas and seeing certain buildings and the structures that are there, it would signify a spoiler. In terms in the scope in the area [around Ala Mhigo], please be assured that’s pretty expansive as well.
Is there any guidance as to what parts of Ivalice we’ll be seeing in the raid? Is it more Final Fantasy Tactics? Is it more Final Fantasy XII? Is it a little bit of both?
I think definitely if you have prior knowledge of Tactics, it would be really enjoyable. But that being said we don’t want it so that it is mandatory for you to have done Tactics or you won’t enjoy [the raid] without the knowledge. So, you can rest assured that we’re not going to force you to have prior knowledge.
Of course there may be some elements within Return to Ivalice… if you are familiar with the Ivalice in Final Fantasy XII, you might recognize things.
So up to the start of early access, you should play Tactics ahead of time, and then enjoy Stormblood, and then in early July… when Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age comes out on July 12th you can play that and then it’ll be right on time for Patch 4.1 and Return to Ivalice. So you have a perfect scheduler right there.