Letter from the Producer, LXII

Today, Final Fantasy XIV Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida posted a new Letter from the Producer for the first time since 2015.

We’ve known that since the Tokyo Fan Festival, that the FFXIV team has been collecting feedback from the community regarding certain discussions and it was said that, depending on the feedback they collect, they would decide on if they would address certain topics. That address is now here, in which Yoshida-san discusses why they decided on the jobs they did for the upcoming Shadowbringers expansion, as well as why the new races for the expansion are restricted to a single gender each.

For those that have been following interviews with various outlets since the Tokyo Fan Festival, this letter doesn’t really offer a lot of new information as Yoshida-san essentially repeats the comments he previously made regarding these topics.

A nice surprise however towards the end of the letter shows that members of the development team have been working to get certain pieces of headgear, such as glasses, to display on the new races.

You can find the entirety of the Letter from the Producer LXII below.

Hello to all our FFXIV players. Producer and Director Yoshida here.

In response to everything we announced about the upcoming Shadowbringers expansion at the recent Fan Festivals, we’ve received a great deal of feedback from all of our players worldwide. We’ve been doing LIVE letters exclusively for a while now, and it’s been over three and a half years since we last released one of these producer letters, but today I’d like to bring back this format to touch on two topics in particular.

Why a New Healer Was Not Added with Shadowbringers

Prior to the Tokyo Fan Festival, many of you anticipated that we would be announcing the addition of a new healer job. I suspect this was encouraged by the fact that we had just revealed gunbreaker, a new tank job. 

When we debuted dancer as a physical ranged DPS job, there were many who welcomed the news, but others who wondered why no new healer had been added.

After internal discussion about how to balance the game as a whole, we determined that we should not add a new healer with this expansion. There were three key factors which informed this decision.

1. Only Two New Jobs Could Be Added with Shadowbringers

The release of a new expansion is invariably accompanied by the raising of the level cap, which means that in addition to adding new jobs, we need to add new actions for existing jobs, as well as review and rebalance current actions. With the exception of the blue mage limited job, there are fifteen jobs—seventeen with the addition of gunbreaker and dancer. While the development team and I myself deliberated prioritizing the addition of new jobs, after considering our update release schedule, we concluded that two new jobs was our limit. Therefore, we had to pick certain roles over others.

2. Only Two Physical Ranged DPS Jobs Are Currently Implemented

As of Stormblood, there are three tank, three healer, four melee DPS, three magical ranged DPS, and two physical ranged DPS jobs. We believe that there is value in adding another physical ranged DPS to improve the balance of available roles, and so we decided to use one of our two new jobs to fill this need.

3.The Present Balance Between Tanks and Healers

Since we currently have four melee DPS jobs, we decided to hold off on developing another and instead added a new tank.

Tanks in FFXIV are often utilized in either a main tank or off-tank role. However, we currently have an odd number of tank jobs, and we felt it that it would be easier to balance them moving forward if we had an even number of tanks, which is why we went with gunbreaker in the end.

Moreover, ever since we added astrologian with Heavensward, we have had considerable difficulty in balancing it along with white mage and scholar. Rather than exacerbate a complex situation by adding a fourth healer to the mix, we decided to instead prioritize balancing the three existing healer jobs at this time.

That said, we understand that there is a strong desire for an additional healer, and so we will bear this in mind when designing new jobs in the future.

Regarding the Gender of Viera and Hrothgar

As you know, in Shadowbringers we will be introducing two new playable races: the Viera and the Hrothgar. Hrothgar will be male only, and Viera will be female only—a decision which has prompted a variety of feedback from each region. I’d like to elaborate on why we decided to proceed in this fashion.

1. The Cost of Developing a New Playable Race

In a Fan Festival keynote speech, I stated that this will likely be the last time we add new playable races to FFXIV. To put it simply, a tremendous amount of time and resources are required to develop one. I’m sure you all understand that a new race will require new faces, hairstyles, bodies, and other assets. In addition to this, they need to be capable of equipping all existing items—this alone requires a massive commitment of resources. Each race has a unique frame and body type, and so every piece of visible equipment needs to be carefully adjusted to display properly on Hrothgar and Viera models. A cursory search will show that FFXIV has around ten thousand equippable items already implemented, all of which must be manually modified by our designers. This is an immediate and unavoidable development cost incurred when adding a new race.

The addition of new playable races will impact more than the development cost of the items added in 5.1 and subsequent updates. Not only will we be transitioning from twelve variations (six races, two genders each) to fourteen, but we will also need to commit more resources to the development of new emotes. While FFXIV will continue to strive to maintain a regular 3.5 month major update cycle, we must also ensure that sufficient time is secured for the meticulous development of new content—or else the quality will invariably drop. This is a complex problem that can’t be solved simply by throwing more money or people at it, as it impacts both debugging and QA.

In summary, these are the circumstances which informed my previous statement that this is likely to be the last time we add new playable races; as at this point in time, it is difficult to see us maintaining our patch update schedule if we have to account for more than seven races and two genders (technically six races with two genders and two races with a single gender, but this is the functional equivalent).

2. A Significant Number of Players Have Been Requesting Playable Viera

Since this may be the last time we add new races, we spent a long time deliberating which race would be the best addition. Fans worldwide have shown an overwhelming desire for FFXII’s Viera, and we have long been aware of this fact. In fact, we considered adding Viera back in Heavensward, but eventually decided that, since that was FFXIV’s first expansion, we should instead add an all-new original race—the Au Ra. If we were to add yet another race rather than the Viera, we anticipated that many fans would be disappointed, and so we decided to try and satisfy their request in this expansion. The desire to please our fans is the primary reason behind this decision.

3. Providing a More Beastly Variety for FFXIV Character Creation and World Building

After seeing the positive reception of the Lupin characters we introduced in Stormblood, we concluded that, for the long-term health of FFXIV, it was important to implement a greater variety of character types beyond the traditionally beautiful in a future expansion. In truth, we had considered adding more beastly characters long before, and since this was possibly our last chance to do so, we decided that we should—much like we did with the Viera—in the interests of expanding the lore and the choices available to players.

Character creation is about providing players with options, and while there’s no telling how many people will utilize these options, we also believe that there is value simply in having them exist—in empowering people to fill the world with greater variety.

Although these second and third points are in conflict, we nevertheless felt that it was in the best interests of our players to try and satisfy both demands. We understood that some players would be upset if they were unable to use their preferred gender, but even so, after much internal discussion, we decided this approach was the best way to improve the overall game experience.

We could have decided to implement only male and female Viera, or only male and female Hrothgar. However, we instead went with an approach intended to expand the possibilities in multiple ways.

As you play through Shadowbringers, you’ll learn that both male Viera and female Hrothgar exist. While you won’t meet any in person, if we developers can find a way to address the various problems which are preventing us from implementing them, then perhaps someday you’ll be able to see them for yourself. I want to be clear that this does not mean it will eventually happen, and that I cannot make any promises at this time. I hope you will understand and bear with us.

Addendum—On Adding Younger-Looking Playable Characters

Among some of the feedback we received were requests for playable characters that resembled young boys and girls. Unfortunately, this is one request we cannot consider for ethical reasons.

With every passing year the debate surrounding moral and ethical issues in games grows more intense, and we do not want to present children in battle or in pain—and posing such characters sexually and taking screenshots and so forth would be expressly forbidden. 

In any event, regardless of what our players did or did not intend to do, the fact remains that if a review board were to evaluate such content and determine it were unacceptable, we would be forced to suspend FFXIV’s service. We ask that you keep these factors in mind as we strive to abide by the changing standards of the times.

In Closing (and with a Bonus!)

The development team is hard at work putting the finishing touches on what we hope will be our greatest expansion yet. Slowly but surely we’re preparing for the day that you all will finally be able to play as Viera and Hrothgar. Those new adventures and more are two months away, but until then, please hold tight!

But before I sign off, I thought I’d leave you with a taste of what I personally consider to be the strongest Hrothgar and Viera (and no, this is not an invitation for debate).

Ah, yes. As you may remember from the Tokyo Fan Festival keynote, I mentioned that due to the special design of the Hrothgar and Viera heads, equipped headgear would not display.

Glasses and so forth would not display either at first, but after seeing how many people called for us to do something, anything, to address this after the announcement, the character team took it upon themselves to use their spare moments to make it possible—without telling me. More than five hundred and forty such items were carefully modified by our designers so that all would display correctly with our new face models. /salute

Every day, the FFXIV development team strives to make the impossible possible. Together, we’ve taken another step forward and surmounted yet another hurdle we once considered impossible. We hope you’ll continue to support us as you experience everything the world of FFXIV has to offer.I’ll see you all in the next Letter from the Producer LIVE and other upcoming events!