A Reddit user translated this interview with Yoshi-P. This segment made me think of the ongoing conversation we have on this board:
Reddit thread is here: https://www.reddit.com/r/ffxiv/comments/53vzbd/game_watch_interview_with_yoship_translation/?st=iteu7z9t&sh=8f88b611
Here, Yoshi further clarifies the progression decisions of his development team, as well as the nature of building a successful game for today's playerbase. I'm sure this will make certain people mad, but for others it's why we play.
Q. There's something i was curious about asking, and you know how people on the internet occasionally say "There's nothing to do in FFXIV" and i think that's because FFXIV's end game has no character growth involved in it. I assume that's because those players into that sort of character growth may enjoy it, but new players will have a hard time catching up.
A. I consider "If there's some sort of character development, the players into that stuff will enjoy it" is a faulty expression. The current FFXIV allows you to reach the level cap at a comparatively fast pace and players who feel they are "released from the burden of leveling a job" won't be able to enjoy the game as much if there is some sort of element that requires you to spend time on building up your character before you do other content. FFXIV has a wide range of players who all have different tastes. It's not like everyone can keep their motivation to run towards a long term goal that is extremely far away to grow their character.
Q. So not having elements to "let your character grow" is intentional.
A. I feel like people who are saying there's nothing to do or they are bored, are people who prefer the "FFXI type" game where the game itself is like end content, where there are almost unlimitted amount of elements to grow your character and keep building up. I do understand their feelings, but as a game that needs to fight on the global scale and this era makes it very difficult for us to choose that railway as an option.
The same applies to how, having elements like ice and fire on your weapon and equipment is rather meaningless with our game design. If the game system has elements as a huge factor and let's say you face a boss who is weak against a certain element. Those who don't have the actions or weapons that are effective will need to start back from re-learning a certain move or go get that fire weapon that melts the boss. That being said, this is actually really fun if you get into it. You feel like you're getting stronger as you work hard for it and you feel more satisfaction after beating that boss with your new weapon. However, you need to put in a lot of time before you fight this single boss and if the next patch adds a boss with a different weakness, you have to start from scratch and learn another move and go get that weapon that the boss is weak against.
If this continues to go on, there will be a moment where you lose focus and at one point you collapse. That sort of game system is highly addictive with fear and uplift alongside each other with the merit where it's harder to get bored because it forces you to continue spending most of your time. But, people nowadays don't have that time anymore. If FFXIV had that old school type system, with how busy i am now, i wouldn't be able to play the game. I'm not saying it's outdated, and the coming era might prefer those types of games and they still have a potential to succeed by changing the business scheme, but like i said before, it just doesn't fit FFXIV.
That doesn't mean we aren't doing anything. Like the Zodiac weapons and anima weapons, we'd like to implement a "time to win" type route, but that will not be the pillar of the game, not in FFXIV at least. This is just an imagination, but 10 years into the future we might shift into a team consisted of members who all truly love FFXIV and we might take our risk to release an expansion with that kind of character development involved in it, but at the moment it's impossible.
Q. So you're saying, not all the current players want a strong character build element in the game.
A. Even if we did change our policy, starting with new players having a hard time getting into the game, a majority of the current players will also be like "I was only able to keep playing because of the current system!" and the problem is, those people don't raise their voices and log in normally or just fade out after getting bored of the game. We need to watch out for those players with no voices. With the feed back, data from the logs, the duration of subs for each player in mind, it's a part of my job to balance the demand of the player base. You can't run an MMO with just "esthesiography", so it's like studying everyday and i'm always being sandwiched by both sides. I personally have an interest in trying out various things, but that by itself will just be my ego.
Back when we released "A Realm Reborn", it was a one shot deal so i looked at the market and situation then designed the game to revive FFXIV, but even now, it's not like i can just make 100% of what i'd like to design in this world of FFXIV, so i'm looking at the balance in between.
Not having an endless element to build on your character is intentional and it's designed so you build up your item level instead. You don't obtain that by gaining experience points. You can clear content, take one step at a time to gradually get stronger, or skilled players can challenge harder content to run in front of everyone else. After reaching as far as you can go, it's true there might be nothing for you to do. In that case you can play a different job, craft or gather or play other games while you wait for the next patch which is no problem at all. We have kept that stance from the beginning and it's the core of FFXIV, so we have no intentions of changing that in the future. Of course, we do understand you will get bored of refreshing your item level at one point, but no matter what sort of game design you choose, you'll eventually get bored. I personally want to present a speech on this topic if i have the opportunity because it's such a deep subject, but today i'll finish it here.
For further development of the game, we are okay with adding totally new attractions such as using a huge area to explore or creating an area where you get one shotted unless you take the enemies out one by one, even if you have the best gear, but we aren't in the stages to place this in the center as the core of the game.
Q. During the 14 hour broadcast, you said you wanted to create an unexplored zone. Is that what you're referring to?
A. It's still just an initial idea, but we do talk about wanting to have something like that. FFXIV is designed where each job has a certain amount of capabilities to do mostly anything with 1 job, so an 8 man party is actually really strong, meaning that it's difficult creating monsters that trouble an 8 man party. So the base ends up being mechanically heavy. Placing a monster who hits like a truck and has a lot of HP is questionable for something that is fun.
At the moment we are slowly experimenting with the exploratory missions to observe how players move about and we are piling up experience on whether or not it fits the FFXIV system. We do have conversations about how we want to do something that is a compilation of all of what we experimented with.