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E3 2019 Interview with Final Fantasy XIV's Naoki Yoshida

16 Jun 2019

This past week at E3 2019 we had a chance to sit down with Final Fantasy XIV Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida to ask him a whole bunch of questions about the game and the upcoming Shadowbringers expansion!

Read on for our interview.

Gamer Escape: In the 1.0 trailer and now with the Shadowbringers teaser Trailer, The Warrior of Light is wearing a kind of generic set of armor. A lot of players are wondering whether we will ever be able to equip it?

Naoki Yoshida: That armor doesn’t exist in the game files. We actually realized only recently ourselves that we never implemented that gear set in the game. If there is a great demand we might consider adding it.

Gamer Escape: From what we’ve seen, it looks like the majority of Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers will take place on The First. Will there be any new content or areas on The Source in 5.0?

Naoki Yoshida: Once you finish the Main Scenario Quests, the Role Quests at level 80 will take place on The Source. That may be the only content that’s going to happen on The Source. This was a deliberate choice, so that we can have our players concentrate on the realm of The First throughout the Main Scenario Quests in Shadowbringers. If we reveal more, it could potentially spoil the story, so we will leave it at that.

Gamer Escape: In the launch trailer, The Warrior of Light is talking to an NPC when he arrives on The First who looks like the NPC that we encounter when we first started A Realm Reborn (Brendt, Brennan, and Bremondt). Is this an Easter egg? Or is this something more?

Naoki Yoshida: This NPC doesn’t tie in closely to the narrative per se, but it is something that is in there to maintain a sense of consistency in your adventures. As you know, the world was shattered into 14 different shards, including The Source, about 10,000 years ago. When the world split into the different shards, because it was based off the same ether, each is a similar realm. So there may be a possibility that certain people, while not exactly replicated, will look similar on the different realms. We wanted to depict that in a easily recognizable form. So, as we’re starting this new adventure in Shadowbringers, we had this NPC show up. This was something that we wanted to incorporate as a reminder that while, yes, we are starting this new important quest, also, “hey look”, there they are again. So it was deliberate in that way.

So, while they may look similar, they are not exactly the same person who follows the same path. Their fate may be different in the different realms. We wanted to depict that aspect of it as well. You will probably encounter other similar situations with other characters that you come in contact with throughout the story.

Gamer Escape: We have the World Visit system now. Are you expecting that to impact Early Access and the launch of the expansion?

Naoki Yoshida: It’s a pretty massive system that we implemented to be able to world visit, but seeing that there weren’t any major bugs, and it’s running smoothly, we are pretty confident that the framework of it is working properly.

That being said, of course, say for example if there’s a lot of people on Balmung, you may run into log in issues. Because we have the World Visit system, we might recommend people move off of more congested servers to play more comfortably on less congested worlds at launch. There are definitely a lot of people on that particular server, and more people joining as well, so again we would probably recommend playing on a less congested server if you are looking to play comfortably.

Gamer Escape: With the World Visit system, have you seen changes to the economy overall?

Naoki Yoshida: We saw some changes happening with enabling the World Visit system, and we are still in the process of things shifting and fluctuating, but it feels within the range of expectations. In areas where we’ve seen extremely low supply of items, with the World Visit system we were able to supply and meet the demands for what was lacking in those particular areas. And we also see the prices of the different items sold stabilizing and becoming more average. We haven’t seen much confusion either. We are pretty smooth in terms of the economy.

Gamer Escape: When an expansion launches, there are multiple instances for each zone to help alleviate the stress. Unfortunately, for parties, they will often teleport and get put in different instances, and then have to zone out and back in in order to reconnect. Is there any way to have an option to choose which instance to teleport into?

Naoki Yoshida: We have addressed that, and your party won’t be split up.

Gamer Escape: We know that Ishgard Reconstruction is going to be considered crafting and gathering endgame content. Can you elaborate more on what this means? Will it be only level 80?

Naoki Yoshida: First and foremost, how this will be flagged as far as completion will not be by individual player, it will be flagged based on the entire world. The basic concept is going to be that all of the players within a particular world are going to rebuild Ishgard. Of course you can contribute more if you have a higher level crafter or gatherer, so in that sense you would be able to contribute more. There is also an element, however, where if your character does not have the crafter or gatherer jobs sufficiently leveled, you can purchase something like a lottery ticket that will allow you to participate in the reconstruction. Also, as more of Ishgard is reconstructed, there will be festivals that will be held, kind of like a seasonal event, and players can participate in those events to obtain additional rewards.

Finally, there will also be a ranking system where, if you are one of the top crafters or gatherers, you will have a title that can be awarded to you or a tool that you can obtain, sort of reminiscent of the ultimate battle weapons. So that will be an element for the top crafters and gatherers to attempt to achieve as well.

Gamer Escape: Is Ishgard reconstruction available at 5.0?

Naoki Yoshida: That will be implemented at 5.1.

Gamer Escape: Is Ishgard housing related to this system?

Naoki Yoshida: It’s up to the players I think…

Gamer Escape: Regarding housing… trying to get a plot is very difficult, and it takes a lot of time and there’s a random element involved because of the timer. Has there been any consideration to change how the system works?

Naoki Yoshida: This system is necessary to address RMT / gold farmers. We want to eliminate issues where they are farming for land as well, and if we were to remove this system then nobody will be able to buy land properly anymore. We wanted to make it so that it’s fair to everybody. So yes, luck is involved in that process unfortunately, but for the time being we don’t have any intentions of changing the system.

Also, and this is something of a happy problem to have, but there are so many players that are still joining us, so it might be getting to that point where we have to consider adding more plots of land. We’d like to launch Shadowbringers first and let things settle down and monitor how the different servers are populated and make out considerations from there.

Gamer Escape: Right now, the Shadowbringers Trust system is only for one player, but a lot of people regularly play with one other person. Is there a reason why you can’t do two players with Trusts?

Naoki Yoshida: With the Trust system, one of the main concepts is for our players to enjoy progressing through the main story, and you will start to see this when you play utilizing this system. But it’s not just about getting through the story. After we complete the main scenario quest, we will still utilize the Trust system, and there will actually be a system in which you’re raising and growing your NPCs. So if we allowed for multiple players to team up with NPCs, we would need to set up a program to track whose Trust belongs to whom, and the growth system gets complicated.

Plus, once we allow for preset partial parties, the demand will be there for people who want to go in to duty finder and be matched up with NPCs, and that gets even more confusing. So we had to draw the line somewhere, so we set it up so either you going solo with your Trust, or you party up with other players.

There’s one more major point. Say for example I am going in with three other NPCs, all the NPC’s need to keep track of in terms of HP and healing is me. If we had a party comprised of two players, the AI will need to decide which player they need to prioritize if they are both running low on HP. That adds an extra step the AI has to make a decision on, which will delay their response.

Gamer Escape: When designing the content, do you take camera angles into account? For example, in the Titania fight here at E3, during one phase the adds get quite big and can often block the camera. Is this intended?

Naoki Yoshida: With any battle content there are general guidelines about how the camera work will be. The development team tests and plays it and looks at the angles and makes adjustments. With this example, the intent of that phase is to make sure your tank is switching over to tank stance and generating the necessary enmity – to make sure they are looking at the big picture. Other than that concept, there is no particular thought put into that phase. Any blocking of the camera is not intentional. As an aside, the fight was actually worse in earlier builds – the team called it Titania Ultimate and you could be knocked off the platform. We will relay the feedback about the camera angles to the team.

Gamer Escape: During the Las Vegas Fan Fest, there was a battle panel about designing the ultimate battle content, and about how many people watched these battles streamed. Are you taking streaming and viewing into account when designing future content?

Naoki Yoshida: We don’t take into account the “streamability” of content. With any content our policy is for the players experience to come first and we do not regularly take into consideration the experience of those watching. We would rather make new content than allocate resources to that. Our policy is to make sure the person playing the content is excited and having fun with the experience. What makes the content fun to watch is when the players are having fun and enjoying the content.

With the ultimate battles, these players are so focused on beating the content they will spend days on the content – not eating or sleeping – and so for those kind of things, it does help that there is some drama in those experiences and people watching that struggle will want to cheer them on because of that drama. It adds to the feeling of being in it together. Perhaps, because the ultimate content is being designed by extremely talented designers, they may have been considering more than just the players, but this is not mandated as part of how content is designed.

Gamer Escape: Has there ever been any talk of a Twitch extension?

Naoki Yoshida: No. We have not had discussions about this, only because we do not have regular discussions about external tools or software or platforms. There are certain tools that are interesting, so it is not that there is no desire, but there are still a lot of elements we want to work on in-game, and we want to prioritize those.

Gamer Escape: Before Fan Fest this year, there was a lot of information leaked. What was your reaction to that?

Naoki Yoshida: Generally speaking, leaking information is the worst thing you can do. There are two thoughts behind this.

With our three fan festivals as well as our patch updates, we tried to lay out elements that would surprise our players, and we want to bring an encounter that people may not have even imagined. It is very important for us to provide that surprise enjoyment. So leaking information is taking away that enjoyment and ruining that initial contact and emotion that we want our players to experience. So it is unacceptable and unforgivable.

The other reason is, it ruins the efforts of the development team. We have a few hundred people working on this daily, and when a spoiler comes out, it destroys what they have worked for. As somebody responsible for the development team, there are simply no words for me to describe how unfortunate that is. It is extremely frustrating. Square Enix as a whole does its due diligence and investigates all incidents of such leaks. They are taken very seriously.