11 Questions for the Final Fantasy XI Dev Team

10 Apr 2020

About a month ago, we were set to sit down with Final Fantasy XI Director Yoji Fujito and Producer Akihiko Matsui at PAX East. Unfortunately, due to the current health concerns around the globe, their trip was cancelled as was the planned Final Fantasy XI Fan Gathering- which would have been the first FFXI event in North America in over ten years.

Thankfully, we had a chance to send over our prepared questions to the team via e-mail and we’ve got their answers posted below!

Before we get into the questions, we have some opening statements:

Director Yoji Fujito

Greetings to our dear adventurers! This is FFXI Director Yoji Fujito.

First of all, I would like to thank you all very much for continuing your adventures in Vana’diel.

Since our launch in Japan in 2002 and expansion of service to North America in 2003, we have seen many people visit Vana’diel throughout the years. Thanks to you all, we will soon be heading into our 19th year of operation this May.

Operating for such a long time has only been possible because our players continue to explore Vana’diel and defend it from peril time and time again. Even if only for a few minutes, the fact that you have stepped foot in Vana’diel adds color and depth to this world and thus preserves its form.

Our development team merely prepare the foundation for that adventure—it is our players who truly make up the heart and soul of this world.

On the road to this next milestone, we would like to extend our gratitude in saying one thing ahead of May 16th – happy 18th anniversary!

We hope that each and every one of you visit Vana’diel and continue to assist those within it.

Your support is greatly appreciated!

Producer Akihiko Matsui

Greetings to our North American players! This is FFXI Producer Akihiko Matsui.

FFXI is going to be celebrating its 18th anniversary very soon, and I want to thank everyone for your support.

I’m quite surprised to see all the excitement coming out of the North American community over the last couple of years. We hope that with the help of the North American Community team we can establish an even closer relationship with our players and strengthen the communication between the development and operations team and you, the players.

Your continued support is greatly appreciated by the entire team!

Gamer Escape: With the March Version Update, you’re including the new Odyssey content to the game. Since major development of FINAL FANTASY XI stopped years ago, how challenging is it for the team to add new content like this?

Akihiko Matsui: Even though we have a huge volume of graphical resources at our disposal, whenever we add new content we want to have new graphics to accompany it. That’s the nature of being a developer, and it’s definitely one of the biggest things we struggle with each time.

Yoji Fujito: Creating content for FINAL FANTASY XI generally centers on the planner using a scripting language to create everything from the overall design to final implementation. As such, the person in charge of a particular piece of content must spend several months focusing on it.

Some of you are probably already aware of this, but at present the FINAL FANTASY XI development team consists of a total of six planners. Each one has a field that they specialize in, where it be items, battles, system-side changes, or storytelling—new content must be created in tandem with their everyday tasks.

All of this is done without the involvement of engineers, because the FINAL FANTASY XI team does not have dedicated engineers. Additionally, the team in charge of QA is in a different department, and as such any costs that aren’t related to regular monthly tasks must be added on top. We include all these time and personnel costs into our plans, figure out the best time to release new content in terms of promoting it, and figure out how to deliver it to to players as a high quality product. I’m sure you can understand the risks we take all throughout these processes.

Gamer Escape: With the addition of reforged artifact and relic armor to a +3 quality, the community is still anxiously awaiting the addition of reforged empyrean armor to a similar quality that has been mentioned a few times in the past. Has a timeline been set for this addition yet, and can you give us any indication that this will be added to completely new content like omen, or more reimagined content such as Dynamis-Divergence?

Akihiko Matsui: We would like to implement empyrean armor reforging together with content appropriate for it.

Yoji Fujito: We are definitely committed to implementing reforged empyrean armor. However, how it will be reforged and what kind of content we will prepare for doing so—including whether we will reuse or remake existing battles—is something we cannot comment on at this time.

Gamer Escape: The past changes to the Beastmaster job’s distance requirements for pet abilities have caused its effectiveness in endgame content to be harshly criticized, while other pet jobs such as Summoner and Puppetmaster still have fairly long ranges on their command abilities. In the interest of job balance, has there been any recent consideration for how this job can be resuscitated to be more effective in endgame content?

Akihiko Matsui: Before the Beastmaster nerfs, virtually all enemies were able to be defeated by all-Beastmaster parties at virtually no risk to the players involved. If we revert those changes, we’ll just go back to the previous, unacceptable status quo.

Summoners have virtually no offense potential without their avatars. Dragoons, on the other hand, deal most of their damage themselves, although they do also have to look after their wyvern. By contrast, Beastmasters are intended to be about half-and-half.

Future Beastmaster adjustments will center on promoting a style where the Beastmasters attack together with their pet—we are aware that players are currently finding it difficult to attack enemies themselves on the frontline. However, we know from our experience with abilities like Aura, Perfect Defense, or Geomancy colures that buffing something too much will lead to problems once players realize their true strengths, so we have to proceed very carefully.

Gamer Escape: Are there any plans to implement additional inventory expansions or mog wardrobes in the future?
Additionally, are there any plans to adjust the maximum stack from 12 to 99 for a wider breadth of items such as basic crafting materials and crystals?

Yoji Fujito: We’re continuing to explore options for increasing storage space, but we’ve got nothing to share regarding what form it might take. In terms of adjusting the maximum stack, some items are balanced around current stack numbers, whereas others would become harder to distribute full stacks of if we increased the number, so we’re not planning to do something like setting the limit for everything at 99.

However, we are continuing to monitor this issue, so if there are any particular items you’d like to see changed, be sure to mention it on the forums.

Gamer Escape: With older content now being easier to solo, are there any plans to remove restrictions to older content such as the minimum party member requirement for Delve? Or plans to reduce congestion
for battlefields such as Einherjar?

Akihiko Matsui: For the most part, we’ve worked to make the game more solo-friendly over the years, but for content such as Delve that has a large amount of resources in a single area, we’re concerned that making it soloable would have an adverse effect on players attempt other content, so the current limitations are still in place.

Yoji Fujito: Most of our current entry restrictions are in place to reduce system-side load. That’s why we have such limitations in place for areas where players are frequently entering, as there is a danger that something could go wrong.

For Einherjar in particular, there are another host of problems on top of those just mentioned due to it not being in an instanced area. We would have to make a variety of major adjustments to the way the content functions, so it’s low on our list of priorities.

Gamer Escape: There has been a lot of nostalgia for FINAL FANTASY XI popping up online recently. Many players playing FINAL FANTASY XIV have expressed interest in returning to Vana’diel, or trying the game for the first time, but are turned off by paying for a full subscription for both titles. Has there been any talk about a combined or discounted subscription? It was done back in 2012, but only for a brief period of time…

Akihiko Matsui: I appreciate you bringing this up, and I’ll share it with the FINAL FANTASY XIV management team. Our underlying payment systems have changed quite a bit since 2012, so it’s possible there are technical hurdles to overcome.

Gamer Escape: Years ago, Vana’diel Tribune Chronicles was published in Japan. Is there any chance that we might see it translated for regions outside of Japan? Or is there any chance that we might get lore books or art books for Final Fantasy XI in the future like what has been done with Final Fantasy XIV?

Akihiko Matsui: Although there are no plans to do so at present, maybe this could become a reality if a lot of our overseas users request it!

Gamer Escape: You’ve talked about wanting to do one last “big thing” for FINAL FANTASY XI leading up to its 20th anniversary in 2022. Players have been speculating about what it could be, talking about an expansion, add-on scenarios etc. We realize you might not be able to say much, but is there any chance you could give us a hint to help keep our expectations in check?

Akihiko Matsui: We were disappointed that we weren’t able to have the fan event as scheduled, so we’re hoping we can put something together for the 20th anniversary.

Yoji Fujito: I’m sure there are some of you who are looking for something on the scale of an expansion, but there are a variety of factors at play preventing us from doing so. Like Matsui-san says, we’re hoping that maybe we can do a fan event, or look at doing more in-game events that are a bit different from what we’ve provided up until now.

Gamer Escape: With this 20th anniversary, you mentioned that the game would be running at least until then. Being a main series entry, has there been any talks internally about how to preserve FINAL FANTASY XI in the unfortunate event that the game does shut down?

We have nothing to comment on at present.

Gamer Escape: With the launch of World of Warcraft Classic, there has been talk of having classic servers for other games. We’re curious about your thoughts on having a classic server for FINAL FANTASY XI where maybe the level cap is at 75?

Akihiko Matsui: Truth be told, we have no snapshot data of the level 75 era, which would make it very difficult to replicate things as they were back then on this type of server.

Yoji Fujito: As things stand today, we are unable to meet these requests, simply from a version management perspective. If the goal was simply to limit level growth to level 75, that is something that could be done in theory, but we would be unable to provide any changes on top of merely adjusting the level cap and do not have the ability to provide any support for it with our current bandwidth.

Furthermore, it goes against our company philosophy to just toss something out there and say “Here, have fun!” without giving it the due care that our fans would rightfully expect, so a level 75 server it isn’t in the cards at present.

Gamer Escape: FINAL FANTASY XI Mobile was announced back in March 2015. Since then we’ve only seen a few in-development screenshots and heard tiny fragments of information through interviews with Naoki Yoshida. Can you tell us a little bit about how development has been going and when we might expect to see more on this title? Players are desperate to hear more!

As this is a joint project with NEXON, the FINAL FANTASY XI team is unable to provide an answer to this question at present.