FFXIV Tokyo Fan Fest Interview With Members of the Press

Yoshida sat down with members of the press during the the Tokyo Fan Fest and answered questions about Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers and the announcements made during the Keynote.

The original interview can be read here.

Q: Firstly, congratulations on finishing the first day of Fan Fest. How was it?

Yoshida: We had some difficulties with queues and guiding the lines due to the scale of the event but it did go smoothly without many problems so I am relieved. As for me, I still have the Chinese and Korean Fan Fest after the release of Shadowbringers… I was able to finish the last Keynote for the global version so I feel less stressed because about 50% of my work is done. I am also very grateful to all Warriors of Light that filled the hall to the brim. I’m very happy that many people stayed until the piano concert which was the last event, even though it was late.

Q : There seems to be a lot of similarities to the Tech Demo for the next generation of MMOs from 2005’s E3 and The Crystarium’s reveal trailer. As someone who has been tracking FFXIV for a long time, the reveal had some things that were deeply moving. You said once that you were reusing the 1.0 content and concepts in various ways. Does that apply to this, as well?

Yoshida: I never thought that people would find out about that this soon. We would really like for everyone to watch the developer’s panel tomorrow and wanted to reveal that in one of the topics and see everyone surprised. On tomorrow’s developer’s panel we will have two people who have created the reborn FFXIV and will do a quite interesting talk session. Some of the main focuses will be how The Crystarium came about and what kind of a city it is, how the world of FFXIV is made up and so on. So, people who have interest in 1.0’s FFXIV should definitely watch it. If say any more about the panel, I will reveal everything the panel has to offer, so… (laugh)

Q: We had dancer revealed. What will be the main stat for Dancer?

Yoshida: It’s ranged DPS, so probably DEX?

Q: If that’s the case, we will have 4 jobs with DEX as the primary stat. Are there any plans to change NIN’s main stat to STR?

Yoshida: Hmmm… Well, I can’t say much before the middle of May. (laugh) I think it would be unclear if I were to talk about only one part of the entire Battle System revamp. It has been 6 years since we started with ARR, so many game systems are connected. If I were to talk only about one part of the entire change, people who are familiar with the battle system will make assumptions of how it will affect other areas of the system. With the current internet driven society, one exact change that I said might lead into big presumptions or misunderstandings which will be hard to correct at a later point no matter how well the changes are explained, so I would like to explain things such as how the system will change and how the concepts of different jobs will change in May’s Producer Letter LIVE. We will also give media a chance to experience the gameplay at a later time so please stay tuned.

Q: I think a lot of people were able to predict that Dancer was coming, but for it to be a ranged DPS was a surprise. Since the Gunbreaker is a tank, a lot of people thought that the next job would be a healer. Can you please give an explanation of why you decided on a tank and a ranged DPS?

Yoshida: We did have suggestions to put in healers, not necessarily that DNC would be a healer. When we think about expansions, we start from which roles should get new jobs because we put how players experience the game as a priority. We were quick to decide on a tank because we thought that balance isn’t quite good with only 3 of them. Tanks have two roles; Main tanks and Off tanks, so to have an odd number of tank jobs…. This is only hypothetical, and I really mean hypothetical, even if you were to divide the tanks into 2 MT’s and OT’s, it would result with having 1 fixed MT or OT with only 3 jobs. Moreover, even if you try to balance the jobs so that they can do any of those roles, with the slightest difference in pros and cons, they are bound to lean towards MT or OT. Therefore, if you have 3 jobs, it is difficult to not have a 1 vs. 2 relation. So, we decided to put in an extra tank for the purpose of easier balancing. Also, the gunblade is of the symbols of the Final Fantasy series, so by adding it to an online game, it might give interest to people who have yet to touch XIV.

However, when we had to decide on what other job to add into the expansion, we had two candidates; a ranged DPS role job because there are only two ranged jobs, Bard and Machinist, and a healer. As you might know, we have a lot of problems with balancing the current 3 healer jobs. Due to Scholar’s fairy, it is inevitable for it to exceed the other jobs so we are racking our brains with that problem at the moment. Even if we did re-balance them with 5.0, by adding one more healer, it would be even more difficult to balance everything out. Healers may be divided into “Barrier Healers” and “Pure Healers” but that division isn’t as clear as MT and OT, so rather than only focusing on balancing the 3 healer jobs, we decided to sort out the number of jobs in each role. With that in mind, with time, we narrowed down the candidates for the new job and as a result we decided on Dancer.

Q: Is the style of gameplay similar to that of FFXI’s Dancer’s style? Or is it designed in a different way.

Yoshida: It has a completely different design.

Q: So, there won’t be any elements to Dancer that could remind players of XI’s Dancer?

Yoshida: When it comes to ability names and effects, FFXIV’s style is that you are able to feel the “taste” of the Final Fantasy franchise, and not only FFXI. Our idea is that we bring in elements that give you the impression of previous Dancers but at the same time that you are able to experience FFXIV individually. To be more precise “it’s similar, but at the same time it isn’t”. I think Samurai is a good example of that. We took the Samurai’s impression of a Warrior from FFXI and made it unique to FFXIV by giving it the “Ronin wearing a Kimono” look. In a similar fashion, we would like to create a version of Dancer that is unique to FFXIV but at the same time it makes you feel nostalgia in some way.

Q: You said that animations for Dancer are the same for both genders. Was that your plan from the start?

Yoshida: If we were to change animations depending on the gender, people would start demanding that for other jobs, too. Also, memory-wise, it is necessary for the animations to be instantly executed after they are loaded into the on-memory database. In that aspect, it would mean that multiple resident animations of specific jobs have to be prepared even though animations for all jobs don’t exist, which would result in a system crash.

Q: So that means that male Dancers will do amorous dance moves, as well.

Yoshida: No, currently gender is a big problem. We think that the concept “if you dance, it’s sexy” itself is not great. This has to do with the job quests, but it’s rooted into the lore why Dancers dance. We took world folklore as reference for creating Dancer. The reason why they dance has nothing to do with gender. Our thought is that with dancing, they encourage their allies while at the same time fight with enemies. The act of encouraging has nothing to do with being sexy. Of course, the history of modern dance is long and there are various dances that were born from situations where males dance in a different way from females. I told the team when I saw the first samples to refrain from referring to that too much because the characteristics of genders would surface out. That it’s different from the lore and, I know it’s tough, but that they have to think of something original. It’s fine to put in subtle steps, but for those moves to be followed by moves themselves would make the difference too obvious. So, it was quite hard.

Q: It was announced that Tetsuya Nomura will be designing bosses for the new raid. Can you tell me the reason why you asked Nomura-san to do the designs and the player’s reaction in the hall?

Yoshida: Firstly, because I think the charm that his characters have and the lore he builds behind those characters is genius, I feel jealous since that essence isn’t in online FF games. As you know, he is an extremely busy person so I wasn’t sure how much he can do for us. He did an illustration for the 3rd anniversary and we do ask him to do some things for us from time to time. This time, in the raid “Eden”, there are a few characters that are key to the raid, so last year during the summer I asked him if he could design one of the core characters. At the time he told me that he will most likely be able to make it, but it seems he had quite a rough time (laugh). Even so, he splendidly finished the design and made a great character that is loyal to his work.

The same thing goes for equipment. It is stimuli for us, too, because we have to adjust modeling in order to realize it in FFXIV. Also, for the stand point of players, we think that players of the new FF generations are used to Nomura-san’s drawings so that it might interest them and give them another element to enjoy in FF as a theme park. Nomura-san did some drawings for FFXI at its start, right? Well, we had none for FFXIV, so I made the request (laugh). He gladly took the job and the monsters that he is working on right now are quite something, so please look forward to it.

Q: How will Eden fold in with the story? You didn’t say much about the story. Will it be highly tied to the story of Shadowbringers?

Yoshida: Hmmm… Think of it as a raid in The First. The core point is that you will get involved with an even bigger problem in The First and not The Source. We had The Binding Coil of Bahamut, Alexander and Omega up until now. This time we want to return to the basics of Final Fantasy, as well, so I think it will have the FF feeling.  We have assembled the raid up to tier 4 and I think many mechanics will make you go “What?!”. The staff come to my office proudly to show their work; it’s to that extent (laugh).

Q: The sentence: “Return the night, elements, weather” was very impactful. Will this be involved with different content such as raids and Primals?

Yoshida: No, as you may know, during the main story quests you are finishing main quests for different areas, or better said, when you “save” an area, you return its night. It will be something like: You will gradually become more of a Warrior of Darkness as you save areas that range from Lakeland and The Crystarium to other areas which are on the brim of being overtaken by light . The way an area looks will be different from player to player depending on where they are in the main story scenario. That’s what we want to do this time.

Q: So, the change will depend on the progress an individual makes in the questline.

Yoshida: Yes, that’s right. It is highly dependent on the progress of the main story. Yet again, we are making a quite absurd system.

Q: You said the main stage of the scenario will be in The First. Will you be able to go and return freely from one world to the other?

Yoshida: Warriors of Light will be able to travel freely because of the Echo. They are able to cross the parallel worlds and the Interdimensional Rift…. The lore we thought of is really convenient, if you ask me (laugh).

However, I want you to go back to 3.4 and the Warriors of Darkness arc. In order to cross over from The First to The Source, they had to take their own lives. This time, there will be a trick that will be utilized so that you don’t have to do that. That is also intertwined with the main story, so it’s not like you’re able to do it just with the Echo, but rather it will be amplified with the help of something. Therefore, you won’t have to die once, so please stay assured.  Once you go there, you’ll be able to teleport normally, too (laugh).

Furthermore, there might be some question marks such as “is gil also utilized in The First for teleports”, etc.  Same question can be asked for Allagan Tomestones. “If The First never had Allagans, what will happen to the Tomestones?” “Wait, there’s no Rowena in The First”, and so on. We definitely want you to keep an eye on that. We really did our best to fill up the lore in that aspect, so will the Allagan Tomestones finally become history, or what will become of them… I think the lore is made well for those points. We really wanted you to experience “another world” and “The Source” and connect them at the same time. It made quite a ruckus in the development team (laugh). Also, “What will what will happen to the Retainers?!” (laugh).

Q: When you announced Hrothgar as the new race, you said that you really wanted to implement a Beastman race. Why is that?

Yoshida: We think that an MMO is a game that people with different perspectives can play it worldwide. Final Fantasy games are games that have beautiful characters, but in the same fashion as in FFX, there are races that look rather stronger. I always use “Guin Saga” as an example. Since we are making a fantasy game, we wanted to give spotlight to that aspect, as well. We thought: “Why add more handsome races… even if we do, the biggest difference will be the ears…”. This time, our motive was the voices of players talking about wanting Lupins which were based on the sketch of a “basic wolfman” and released in 4.0. Also, with the current frequency of patches, we release a lot of data that’s equipment, so for creating one piece of equipment, we would have to use a lot of our resources. With the current resources we have, we could only add only one race. After a lot of deliberating, we decided to add both (beautiful female and Beastman). I think that was our main motive.  

Q: So that’s why you wore that shirt today.

Yoshida: Yes, it was a hint that we were releasing a lion (laugh). We gave the information straight away today, so might as well have a direct hint. I was in a mood for a lion shirt.

Q: Both of the races have characteristic head designs. What will happen to headgear?

Yoshida: It won’t be displayed. It’s impossible with the current FFXIV’s system because of Viera’s and Hrothgar’s faces. The logic is that it was impossible to make helmets that would fit. For example, if we talk about Viera’s ears, you can make them fall sideways in which case we have to make the be in the same position as Miqo’te’s, otherwise it wouldn’t resonate with the system. So, we thought that if we don’t make new races that have new looks, that it doesn’t make any sense to add any, so I decided that it doesn’t matter if they can’t wear helmets. Therefore, no matter what helmet you equip, you can equip it, but it won’t graphically show. However, we did decide to enable display of head pieces that hide the entire head, so if you want to wear the Fat Chocobo Head, you can. Glasses and Circlets won’t be displayed. If we were to separately decide which item is fine and which isn’t, we would have to go through a huge number of items, so we decided to disable the graphics completely and only allow the headpieces that hide the entire head.

Q: Is there a possibility that some Viera NPCs will wear glasses?

Yoshida: I would probably stop anybody who would try and do that. It would give rise to critique such as: “Why can’t I wear them, if NPCs can?”. It’s hard to implement that aspect at this stage, but there is a possibility that we will get some leeway to do something about it after getting some experience and have more freedom with the budget. If we were to do that now, we wouldn’t be able to create new races to start with, so we want to do it one step at a time. I know players want to put small glasses, etc. on their character’s noses.

Q: When did you decide to make Viera and Hrothgar?

Yoshida: The decision was made 3 months after the release of 4.0, I think. That’s the timing when it was decided that Viera is the next race 100%. Because of that I was able to tell Matsuno-san that if he wanted to put Fran into the Return to Ivalice raid, he could. Hrothgar was decided at the same time. After thinking if we should implement the female version of Hrothgar or just put in Viera, ultimately, we decided on Viera. Therefore, around that time is when we started making the races. Like I said, the head characteristics of the races are quite unique, so the differences between choices of faces is quite big. Especially Hrothgar’s. Lion type face, Leopard type… you can change the face drastically. Right before the Paris’ Fan Festival is when we made the Viera’s fixed model and for Hrothgar is not that long ago. 

Q: The shocking fact that Lalafells, or rather Dwarves, are a Beastman tribe came to light this time. The definition of “Beastman” came from Garlemald calling different tribes Beastmen. However, Garlemald doesn’t exist in The First, right?

Yoshida: Yeah, they don’t. However, in Japanese the word “Banzoku” exists, right? (Note: Banzoku = “Barbarian, Savage tribe” if directly translated from JP to EN; in the JP client this word is used for Beastmen). In the same fashion, in The First’s standard language, they are called “banzoku” rather than “people”. They are called “The banzoku race”, so think of it in that manner. So, not from the definition the Garleans gave but “people who are out of place”.

There’s a highlighted section in the lore book: “When and which race started to be called as Beastmen which was influenced by the period and the politics”. If the period and the world are different, even if they are the same beings that are made from aether, they might be called Beastmen, or in the opposite scenario, they might call everyone else Beastmen. For example, if the Garleans started to rule everything in The Source, they might start calling everyone, except for Garleans, as Beastmen. Think of it as being dependent on the rulers and the politics of the period.

Q: Will the Beastmen from The First summon Primals?

Yoshida: Hmmm, I wonder. Since we are talking about a world that has been split into different mirrored world, so in a sense, it’s a broken world, there is a high chance that if you strongly wish for it and use the power of crystals/aether, that that may turn into a summoning and a Primal might materialize. Will Primals appear in 5.0 is a different question, but lore-wise, it is possible.

Q: We saw the plumped Miqo’tes in the trailers. Is there a possibility that players might be able to become like that, too? Also, will the Dwarves say “Lali-ho!”?

Yoshida: This has nothing to do with the previous “handsome and beautiful” I talked about earlier. Of course, there are different body types around the world. However, the fact is that due to the budget, we didn’t make those kinds of variations. This time we gave ourselves some freedom with the budget and it all started from the thought that maybe we should make a different body type for an existing race. I think we were able to make great characters. There are characters that are involved with the Main Scenario, so please, after you see them in the MSQ, please give us some feedback.

As for “Lali-ho”, I think it would be more interesting if I don’t say anything in that regard (laugh).

Q: About Dwarves, are the “helm and beard” designed based on the previous Dwarves from the FF franchise?

Yoshida: Yes. One day, when everyone becomes good friends with the Dwarves, you might be able to wear their helmets, and when you wear it, you’ll be able to have the same look.

Q: So that means, Lalafells, or rather Dwarves, will have their Beastmen dailies?

Yoshida: There’s a high chance they will. You’ll be seeing the Dwarves every day. Dwarves have a number of factions their tribe is divided into and they have different competitive stances towards one another and it might look like a kid’s fight from our point of view. So, you might be the person who will be between the two fires and try and make things go well. Something like that might be released in the future. We really put it a lot of effort into that when we made them. By the way, there were a lot of SNS posts saying that the White Mage from The First, Lamimi didn’t have a helmet or beard. There is a reason for that (laugh). We are filling in the holes. 

Q: If I go to the Dwarves’ village as a Lalafell, I’ll have the highest rank from the get go, or something similar… Will that happen?

Yoshida: But… you don’t have a beard or a helmet, right? (laugh). You might be told that you are a Lalafell that threw away the ways of the Dwarf. 5.0 is a really new world, or rather, I think one of the points was to make a new fantasy.  

Q: Is the characteristic of Lalafell houses also one of the points in making a new world?

Yoshida: In 4.0 in the Azim Steppe, we described a lot of factors of how the Au Ra live. Of course, because of that we got a lot of feedback that people want to see the Miqo’te, Elezen, etc. in the same fashion, so Lalafell houses came from the fact that we wanted to describe the popular Lalafells = Dwarves. We started from things that could have the biggest impact (laugh).

Q: Will the house sizes effect the quest progression?

Yoshida: You don’t have to worry about that. If it did have an effect then I would be blamed that I’m forcing people to buy Fantasia and that I’m a mammonist, so we didn’t even consider that (laugh).

Q: I want to ask you about the size of Viera and Hrothgar. Are Hrothgar bigger than Roegadyn?

Yoshida: Depends on how you look at it. The Hrothgar have a cat’s back. If you were to straighten up their spine then yes, they would be taller than the Roegadyn. If you look it from the perspective of muscle bone structure, then they are a little more robust and armor fits them very well. I think you can make a character that gives you the vibe of a “strong hero” to a degree higher then with the current races. Variations of the character creation are very different, so when we were deciding on how the Hrothgar should be displayed when you are picking the races, we kind of started arguing. “That doesn’t look like a Hrothgar!” or “No! No! No!” (laugh).

Q: My impression from the video footage is that its skin is smooth for a Beastman. Will you be able to make them hairier with character creation?

Yoshida: That would be difficult to make. As long as we don’t make our display engine better, the game would crash when it would start loading faraway characters.

Q: So, you’re saying that you need a “fluffy engine” (laugh).

Yoshida:  There is a fluffy engine in the 5th business division, but if we were to use it, displaying 3 characters would freeze the game… It’s hard to implement that. However,  we did put in as many textures in places where people look at the most such as the bust. You should be able to see in the video that you’ll be able to be fluffy more than you think.

Q: I want to ask you about the size of the new areas. Lore-wise, the world is flooded by the element of light, but comparing the areas with the areas up until now, for example Stormblood’s areas, what’s the scale of the areas?

Yoshida: When adding all the areas together, it definitely won’t be narrower then Stormblood. Rather, it’s a little bit bigger. They are more concentrated, as well. The new stage “Norvrandt” is when speaking in term of The Source is Eorzea and the areas of the three nations are equivalents to Norvrandt.  Therefore, think of it as Eorzea areas = Norvrandt areas. So, the inside volume of Eorzea in The Source is the volume of Norvrandt. Due to the Flood of Light, areas outside of Norvrandt have vanished and their current state is a pure white vast land which is called the “Land of Emptiness”.

You can actually see it on the fields. To give a short answer… if you look at the art of Amh Araeng that was introduced at the Las Vegas fanfest, you can see a wall that has a wave kind of structure. That’s the boundary of the flood of light that barely came to a stop at that spot. That wall surrounds Norvrandt in a circle and everything behind it is a white field that lost its elements.

Q: So, Eden will take place in this “Land of Emptiness”?

Yoshida: Hmmm… I wonder… the boss might be a bud (laugh).

Q: In the last expansions we had new types of movement such as flying and diving. Will there be anything like that in this expansion?

Yoshida: There won’t be anything like that this time. In that stead, you will be spreading darkness in the new areas. When we were thinking of what kind of new movement we could implement, we really couldn’t think of anything except for zero-gravity. So, rather than increasing moving methods, roughly speaking, we wanted to concentrate on making content that involves flying, for example, that doesn’t involve job aspects. Let’s leave the zero-gravity movement for the moon. Also, I was asked “what’s the difference between flying and zero-gravity” or told “it’s the same as diving”, and I could only say “yeah…”. In space you can’t even hear sounds.

Q: Lastly, the core element of Shadowbringers is reconstructing the world?

Yoshida: Like always, everything is rooted into the main story. Some goes for the Trust System. I always say this when I talk about expansions, but we want to expand on “the volume of an entire new RPG”. We are putting effort into the RPG elements which are not usually characteristic to MMORPGs such as inlaying the scenario into the world which you can do alone. That’s the best way I can phrase it.

Q: Thank you!