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Scree!: A PAX West 2019 Follow-up

24 Oct 2019

Last month at PAX West 2019 in Seattle, I had the chance to sit down with Main Scenario Writer Natsuko Ishikawa and Art Team Lead Takeo Suzuki to talk about their work on Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers.

My last question during the interview asked about the inspiration behind the Great Serpent of Ronka quests- which have been incredibly popular with the community since the launch of the expansion.

Ishikawa: That was actually a pet project of one of the scenario writers. Of course we have the scenario and lore teams, but one of our new members that joined us had that idea and she kept pitching it multiple times. She worked on several drafts, after being rejected several times, and so we feel we’re not worthy to speak on her behalf about it, but it’s her pet project for sure!

Needless to say, I was even more curious about the development of the questline after Ishikawa-san’s response. The idea of a new member on the team continuing to try their best in order to write a quest and have it ultimately end up being one of the defining social icons of the expansion is something I wanted to hear more about.

With the help of our contacts at Square Enix, we were able to get a couple of questions sent over to the rest of the team, and, after speaking with those involved, Ishikawa-san sent us their response.

Gamer Escape: What was your inspiration for the Great Serpent of Ronka Questline? (Specifically, the storyline between the quest “The Great Deceiver” and “Protectors of the Wood.”)

Natsuko Ishikawa: This series of quests and storyline was written by one of our new staff members on the World Lore team. One of her roles was naming the various areas within the Rak’tika Greatwood, and although she did not have much experience in scenario writing at the time, we decided to have her write some side quest content within that area as well. It was then
that she proposed creating a storyline which leveraged the “Fruit of the Protector” location name, thus marking the birth of the Great Serpent of Ronka character.

Fruit of the Protector

Gamer Escape: As was mentioned [by Ishikawa-san] at PAX West, these quests went through several rewrite phases before it was finally approved. Would you be able to tell us about how the quest changed throughout its development?

Natsuko Ishikawa: As I had mentioned before, the concept of having the “Fruit of the Protector” as the centerpiece never changed throughout the development process. However, it seems the writer leading this quest was going through much trial and error in shaping and tying together each story element while still surrounding this centerpiece.

The World Lore team lead, Banri Oda, who had been watching her progress, advised her to implement a minion into the storyline. Interestingly, the minion model used here was not originally created with the Great Serpent of Ronka in mind, but actually used the Tsuchinoko (a well-known creature in Japanese folklore) as a motif. The idea was to include the minion into the storyline as the Great Serpent of Ronka—this would provide a visual for this strange creature, and hopefully help in understanding the story’s lore… That being said, I decided I wouldn’t ask the writer what went through her mind when she was told by her boss to include this minion modeled after such a creature into her first storyline!

In the end, and thanks to her efforts, the Great Serpent of Ronka, an exquisitely lovable character, came to life. This has become one of my favorite series of quests as well.

And there you have it!

We’d like to thank Ishikawa-san and the rest of the Final Fantasy XIV Development Team for giving us some additional insight into the creation of everyone’s favorite Great Serpent!