Now that Fan Fest 2021 has wrapped up, we had a chance to ask Final Fantasy XIV’s Naoki Yoshida a handful of questions that still lingered in our minds in the weeks after the event.
Gamer Escape: It’s great to see that Endwalker will have so many things that are original to FFXIV. Could you tell us
how the development team came up with the ideas for Sage and Reaper?
Naoki Yoshida: Every time we design a new job for the game, we first consider the overall design of Final Fantasy XIV at the present, and decide on the role of the job first. In Shadowbringers, we were planning to add either a tank or a healer, and we ultimately chose a tank at that time—however, since then we’ve seen many requests from players around the world asking for a new healer, and conversely we were intent on adding a healer with Endwalker.
The other job was decided to be a DPS, and in consideration of balancing the DPS roles, we decided on a melee DPS that uses the same gear type as the dragoon. Roughly speaking, our next step would be to decide on the weapon for the job. Many players had requested a job that utilizes a two-handed scythe, so it was a fairly smooth process to settle on that weapon for the reaper. Once we decided on the scythe, our thoughts went from that to a grim reaper, which in turn was extrapolated into the idea of implementing an avatar.
When it came to sage, we really struggled with choosing a weapon. There were many ideas: have the sage hold giant orbs in both hands or even having them carry a medicine box on their back and throwing different potions, for example. We had various discussions and even created rough sketches in the process. Ultimately, we solidified the basic idea to have the sage control several crystal orbs—not held in their hands but rather floating around them—and finally evolved it into what you see now. Naming the job sage actually came after all of this. (laughs)
Gamer Escape: Lots of players are excited for Male Viera. Some however are still wondering about the newer races’ (Viera and Hrothgar) lack of hairstyles, lack of visible head equipment, and, in the case of Hrothgar, needing a fantasia to change their existing hair styles. Are there any plans to level the playing field for Viera and Hrothgar players by making adjustments to those issues?
Naoki Yoshida: For both the Viera and Hrothgar, there were certain characteristics we wanted to emphasize in their design—the long ears of the Viera and beast-like features of the Hrothgar. Due to this, there was a limit to the range of customization, and we worked with these conditions when creating these races. If we wanted to make these features more customizable, we’d have to sacrifice those unique features, so it would be great if everyone could understand that at a fundamental level, it is not simply a matter of whether or not we make adjustments to accommodate this.
I have mentioned this on several occasions, but I understand why players request this—I really do. In an effort to accommodate this, even if just a little bit, we have continued to spend a lot of time assessing possible changes in structural design of the models, as well as potential additions to our current workflow. Even as I write this, I just met with the team to get an update on their testing status for this. We may not be able to get them to be exactly the same as the other playable races, but I hope to be able to give you some kind of update soon, including the status on the stubble for Hyur as you asked about previously, so your patience on the matter is greatly appreciated!
Gamer Escape: With Data Center Travel coming soon, it feels like we’re nearing the end of the path that started
with World Visit. From a development standpoint, will Data Center Travel and the technology
behind it allow you to do things with future content that you weren’t able to do before?
Naoki Yoshida: Right now, we are putting in all of our effort into making travel between data centers a reality, so at present I do not have anything formulated in regard to further game content or system expansions. When going back and forth between data centers, our Frontier servers—which are implemented on a higher tier than the game servers—need to relay information on each character. In order to keep a high processing speed for the Frontier servers, they are setup so that the server does not “know” information on a player character’s Free Company or the whereabouts of its members. Unlike the World Visit System, the player will not be able to carry over information on their Free Company or cross-world linkshells to another data center. That’s why we call this “travel” and it is intended as a temporary visit. Using this to create new content will be quite a challenge given the fact that certain information is being withheld during travel. However, I feel that this would enable everyone in the community to hold more large-scale events or create more opportunities to meet and make new friends—I believe this is the biggest advantage of this system.
Gamer Escape: With previous expansion releases, players often got a heads up for when they could pre-order the Collector’s Edition. Was there a reason that didn’t happen this time around? Are there plans to make more physical Collector’s Editions for those players that weren’t able to secure a pre-order?
Naoki Yoshida: First, I want to apologize that we were unable to keep up with the large demand for the Collector’s Edition. We had initially planned for our Fan Festivals to be physical events, but as each one was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and having to pivot to one single digital event, it led to this misstep.
With Fan Fest 2021 now one single event, we were heavily focused on the promotional aspects of the event, trying to make a big splash with major Endwalker news and also announcing and beginning preorders for the title while all of our fans were tuned in. Looking back on it, that goal was the impetus for pre-orders starting so suddenly, and it was a big learning point for us.
I do want to note we have continued to carefully consider the quantity of our physical CEs, based on quantities and sales from previous expansions; however, the recent influx of players greatly surpassed our expectations, which resulted in a shortage of supply over the great demand for CEs. Unfortunately it takes a very long time to produce all of the different merchandise items and figure for the CE, and we tried to readjust the allocation globally, but every region was at their capacity, and we were unable to add any more stock.
We hope that you can understand, and again I would like to give my sincerest apologies for this.
Images courtesy of Square Enix.