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Interview with Final Fantasy XIV's Naoki Yoshida and Yusuke Mogi

6 Apr 2020

About a month ago, we were set to sit down with Final Fantasy XIV Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida, as well as Lead Character Concept Artist Yusuke Mogi to chat while at PAX East. However, with things being the way they are at the moment, the team ended up cancelling their appearance at the show. Their scheduled panel was instead live streamed.

Thankfully, we had an opportunity to pass along our questions via e-mail! You can check them out below.

Gamer Escape: Currently in the game we have several different types of social tools: free companies, linkshells, and now fellowships. What led to creating Fellowships as a separate system versus integrating those features into free companies or linkshells?

Naoki Yoshida: Fellowships serve as a sort of roleplay mechanism, and we implemented it as a system without limitations on how it should be used so players can casually come together as a group. The team wanted to make it possible for players to create different community groups, such as one for people that love TV dramas, one for people that love novels, or another for people that live in the same region—and we wanted to achieve this without including a chat function. 

If we had integrated fellowships with the pre-existing linkshell or free company systems, it would have inevitably been impacted by these existing communities. We intentionally designed the Fellowship in a way to separate it from the other two and let it grow as a unique system.

Gamer Escape: There has been talk recently in the community about player mods–specifically those which can change the appearance of other players without their consent.  Some players are also afraid that modders could impersonate or target other players on social media (making it look like they’re using mods) in an effort to get them banned. There has been talk of wanting a file integrity check for the game to prevent this, but is such a thing feasible?

Naoki Yoshida: Since data packets are distributed equally to all players, it is very difficult for us to identify what kinds of tools are being used and how data is being handled on players’ personal computers. That said, manipulating or secretly prying into others’ data violates the game’s terms, so we will inflict penalties if we see any issues after doing investigations. Rest assured that we do thorough investigations so as not to falsely accuse anyone.

Gamer Escape: With the streamlining of the 2.0 MSQ, will there be any changes to the Main Scenario Roulette dungeons (Castrum Meridianum and The Praetorium)?

Naoki Yoshida: No, we don’t plan on making any changes at the moment. We would like to revisit the overall design of dungeons sometime in the future, but we haven’t had the time to get to it yet.

Gamer Escape: Players being given dialogue options for how they react to certain quests has become a fun way to add personality to the Warrior of Light/Darkness. However, with Eureka, and now again with the Qitari Beast Tribe quests, we’re given not just dialogue choices, but a choice that impacts the story itself. How do you and the team decide when having a choice like this is OK? We feel a bit bad for the team working on things like the Encyclopaedia Eorzea–how is the canonical choice determined? Is there one?

Naoki Yoshida: These kinds of options are mostly proposed by members of either the scenario team or the world lore team. None of them were ideas that I specifically asked the team to implement. I’m more of the mind to instruct the development team to be careful of options which don’t lead to irreversible outcomes, as that could pose different risks. I also give instructions to always avoid making options in which only one of them is canonical. 

The true Qitari tribe’s history is however the player interprets it—it is unknown which option is canonical, or whether both are actually false. To be honest, the development team hasn’t decided what the official history is (laughs).

Gamer Escape: With the recent patch you added Ocean Fishing. It’s a very different kind of content than you’ve released previously. Are there any other types of larger, more casual content that you’re considering?

Naoki Yoshida: Yes. The personalities of modern-day gamers are quite diverse, and nowadays the way people choose to spend their time differs from person to person depending on their personality. It’s very important to have content that’s readily accessible, and we plan to actively implement more of this type of content in the future. 

That said, I won’t be spilling the beans about what kind of content is coming up next!

Gamer Escape: On a similar note to the last question, it has been a while since we’ve heard you say anything about Blitzball. Is this still something the team is talking about?

Naoki Yoshida: I have mentioned this previously, but we don’t have a definitive answer yet. The conflict still exists of whether to create Blitzball content in line with MMORPG game systems, or to make it something closer to the original… 

That said, I personally don’t think the latter will work well, which is a big reason as to why we haven’t started any type of implementation. If we just force ourselves to push out content, we are bound to get feedback saying, “This isn’t Blitzball at all!”

Gamer Escape: What is your favorite memory during development on Shadowbringers?

Yusuke Mogi: It would be when I was asked to create design ideas for a plus-sized Miqo’te, even though I had no knowledge of the main scenario overview.

Creating a character with a unique and distinctive body shape was a very fun experience.

Gamer Escape: What were some of the unique challenges that Shadowbringers presented to you?

Yusuke Mogi: One challenge I faced was how to express this “different world” as opposed to the world the players were already familiar with. How would I depict a sky without night, and one so bright it appears to have a halation effect? How should I represent primals that previously appeared (in the Source), but also exist in this different world with their own, unique appearances? 

The world setting and premise were very important, so I hope this resonated with the players as a world that the development team was very particular about in the details.

Gamer Escape: Each area in the game has its own unique identity or theme. The landscapes, the music, and even the gear that can come from it. What has been your favorite sort of aesthetic to work on, and is there another you wish you could do that you haven’t done yet?

Yusuke Mogi: I’ve mentioned this in a live stream previously, but it would be the first bard artifact armor in FFXIV. I believe it’s a design that embodies Mr. Amano’s design depictions and concept very well. I would love to revamp the design with our current graphics.

In terms of elements that I have worked on, my favorites would probably be the dark knight’s Deathbringer when it comes to weapons and Cuchulainn for monsters. I think I’d love to try and design something uniquely un-FINAL FANTASY some day! (laughs)