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My thoughts on TanakaFollow

#1 Dec 10 2010 at 6:15 AM Rating: Decent
I saw this coming.

Basically looking at it from this point of view you'll understand too. Tanaka had 5 years to work on FFXIV. He had alpha and beta and still released a incomplete product. Top that off with his "Anti-AH" stance, he reminded me in many ways of Richard Garriott creator of Tabula Rasa.

Garriott, like Tanaka had his own views. He made his game the way he wanted, what HE considered to be fun and not what others considered to be fun. That is where the failure comes in. When you make a entertainment product be it movie or game or book you can't just make something for yourself, you have to consider and inquire what OTHERS want and like into said product.

Tanaka took a firm stance on what he wanted as did Garriott, so rather then let him have his way as NCSoft did with Garriott. Instead SE decided to pull him off and appoint Yoshida.

This was definatly the right move, cause as Tabula Rasa showed us. If you give one man complete control you are doomed to make a failing product, and why is this?

Its because one man's idea of fun is not everyone's idea of fun. Tanaka's hard headed approach to the mmo world with his firm stances on thing like no AH, his fail "Battle Regime" and many other problems dug his grave.

What is your opinion of this event?
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#2 Dec 10 2010 at 6:23 AM Rating: Good
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He was in charge of the budget and schedule.

Those definitely lead to some weird design choices (combined UI instead of divided) and unfinished product, but I don't think he had much to say about the actual development of the game.
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#3 Dec 10 2010 at 7:10 AM Rating: Excellent
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Titles like "Producer", "Director" and such are somewhat vague. Some "Producers" like to really invest into a game, when some others are just "supervisor" (I don't think it's the best term either.) It's so vague that Naoki Yoshida is both Producer and Director.

In this interview, Tanaka clearly stated his stance for FFXIV :
Quote:
First, for me personally, FFXI represents my ideal MMORPG, and having made it these eight years, there is a feeling that I have done everything I set out to do. However, there are those with different concepts of what is ideal and there can be more than one version of the "best." So this time, Director Nobuaki Komoto and his crew are creating their own version of the ideal MMORPG -- Final Fantasy XIV.

Another example, in this interview (in french), he talked about the AH (8th question). His answer is:
Quote:
I thought from the start that an AH would be easier, but the developpement team proposed the idea of a new economic system which would favor crafters.

That's wasn't his own idea, and maybe even now he doesn't think it's a good idea (we don't know, and actually we don't need to know). If you search arcticles about the making of Final Fantasy 7, you'll find that the developpement already was a big brainstorming where everyone could suggest an idea, and it happened that the leads didn't agree on some parts, but it eventually worked. Same thing happened for FF13 : they recently admitted they suffered from a lack of "common vision" between the differents teams during the developpement.
Tanaka did more or less all the interviews, but it doesn't mean he was defending his ideas.

(on a more pessimistic note, the lead developpement team has been changed, but maybe a lot of the bad work was due to people in the lower hierarchy, and they may be still here)
#4 Dec 10 2010 at 7:16 AM Rating: Decent
Ahhh so i was wrong good to know.

Edited, Dec 10th 2010 8:18am by FinalFanXIV
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All we are missing is Thief, Clan Khee'Bler and we will have the full Light Warriors party.
#5 Dec 10 2010 at 7:19 AM Rating: Decent
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I think he's just Uncle Scrooge of SE. Everything about the game screams "conserve yens!" to me.
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#6 Dec 10 2010 at 7:50 AM Rating: Decent
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He seem to be a scapegoat.

Hes been in the business for long enough to know if product X will sell well. Why FFXIV released? I seriously doubt he agreed.
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#7 Dec 10 2010 at 7:54 AM Rating: Good
I just hope the new guy doesnt do what happened to Star Wars Galaxies.. aka make the game so much worse that people will wish it was back to how it currently is
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Osarion = Red Mage
Mikhalia = Black Mage Evilwizardington
FinalFanXIV = Fighter McWarrior
All we are missing is Thief, Clan Khee'Bler and we will have the full Light Warriors party.
#8 Dec 10 2010 at 7:56 AM Rating: Good
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I hope he distinguishes the game from the rest in a good way.

Right now all we know is that the update schedule is going to increase. I hope they can make it work.
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#9 Dec 10 2010 at 7:59 AM Rating: Good
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Humster wrote:
He seem to be a scapegoat.

Hes been in the business for long enough to know if product X will sell well. Why FFXIV released? I seriously doubt he agreed.

This is possible, however, you can't but wonder how five years of development gave us such a skeleton of a game. Even if his opinions as a game designer are valid, he may have indeed failed as a producer due to the seemingly inefficient development.

He seems to put much weight on Nobuaki Komoto's vision for the game, which strikes me as odd considering how devoid of immersion FFXIV is compared to FFXI CoP, which was the most magical thing ever and also directed by him.
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#10 Dec 10 2010 at 8:02 AM Rating: Good
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Every time the point would be made that SE had eight years plus another successful MMO under their belt to get FFXIV right, the rabid FFXIV apologists would try to deflect from that and say that FFXI's development has nothing to do with FFXIV.

I always said that as a manager for a group of software developers, if I released a product today that was a downgrade and had less features than a similar product we released in 2002, that I would be fired. Well, there you go.

I hope the guy can still contribute and finds something in his work life that makes him happy, but performance-based actions in the workforce - and today's economy - are a fact of life. There simply is no excuse for your second MMO to have the development time it did, yet still be released in a state that has less basic features and support than your original product released eight years ago had. None.

Tanaka is (was?) in a position many of us only dream about, it sucks that it came down to this and no one should wish ill of him.


Edited, Dec 10th 2010 9:04am by Whales
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#11 Dec 10 2010 at 8:39 AM Rating: Good
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I'll reserve my judgment until the new team starts putting out content that was planned by themselves.

There's a lot that needs to be changed... but by taking a look at that director-- if FFXIV devolves into some ***-sim MMORPG, I'm out.

Personally, I don't think all of the blame should be placed on Tanaka. It was probably the suits of S-E that pressured him into releasing the PC version this year when clearly it could've used another year in development.



Edited, Dec 10th 2010 9:44am by ghosthacked
#12 Dec 10 2010 at 8:55 AM Rating: Default
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It's real easy as outsiders to second guess the decision-making
process leading up to the mess that is ff14. So why waste time
on it? We have no idea what SE was attempting or the reasons
behind their failure to provide a finished product. Obviously
someone had enough pull within SE to push forward with the project
even through the delays and increasing costs. My guess is that,
even if they had presented a fully functional ff14, it wouldn't
have been well received. What they were attempting doesn't fit
with what people accept. Being different doesn't sell. Should have
stuck with ff11 and saved all the expense.
#13 Dec 10 2010 at 9:37 AM Rating: Excellent
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I may be in the small majority in this view, but I feel sympathetic to Tanaka. He is an easy scapegoat for the company where targeting specific management over negative press is pretty much PR protocol. It makes me incredibly depressed reading the news today about Tanaka because I'm in a similar situation this year. Our company recently had a few recalls from the government over a few products that I was involved in. Over the past month I have been working 18 hour days and have already canceled my christmas and new year plans due to this PR disaster. At the end of the year, I anticipate the company making a similar announcement about "changing management" which will likely lead to me getting layed off or at the very least a terrible year end performance review that will impact both my salary and bonus. Do I deserve some the blame for the recalls? Partially yes, since I made certain decisions that impacted the final product. Did I have tremendous pressure from the top to launch these products to meet bottom line revenue streams? Absolutely. Would I have been fired anyways if i failed to meet quarterly expectatations in lieu of delayed product launch? Most likely.

The corporate world is cruel. The CEOs and high execs reap hordes of benefits when the company is doing well and delegate responsibility to others when the company is not doing as well.
#14 Dec 10 2010 at 9:41 AM Rating: Excellent
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lightacadi wrote:
I may be in the small majority in this view, but I feel sympathetic to Tanaka. He is an easy scapegoat for the company where targeting specific management over negative press is pretty much PR protocol. It makes me incredibly depressed reading the news today about Tanaka because I'm in a similar situation this year. Our company recently had a few recalls from the government over a few products that I was involved in. Over the past month I have been working 18 hour days and have already canceled my christmas and new year plans due to this PR disaster. At the end of the year, I anticipate the company making a similar announcement about "changing management" which will likely lead to me getting layed off or at the very least a terrible year end performance review that will impact both my salary and bonus. Do I deserve some the blame for the recalls? Partially yes, since I made certain decisions that impacted the final product. Did I have tremendous pressure from the top to launch these products to meet bottom line revenue streams? Absolutely. Would I have been fired anyways if i failed to meet quarterly expectatations in lieu of delayed product launch? Most likely.

The corporate world is cruel. The CEOs and high execs reap hordes of benefits when the company is doing well and delegate responsibility to others when the company is not doing as well.


You're right. As such, since the corporate world is rough, Tanaka takes the blame. It's also easier for outsiders to put the blame on someone and see him replaced. Makes them feel better.
#15 Dec 10 2010 at 9:47 AM Rating: Decent
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I'm sorry what? There is nothing "vague" about the title producer. A producers job is to oversee, manage, decide where the money is spent, etc, etc. The lead producers role is the most well paid and important since he oversees EVERYTHING.

Give me a break.
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#16 Dec 10 2010 at 9:58 AM Rating: Excellent
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Take a look at any interview with Tanaka any time after the release date was officially announced. You can tell by his pictures that he looks more and more overworked with each day.
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#17 Dec 10 2010 at 10:06 AM Rating: Decent
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It's just dumb to assume Tanaka is responsible for what has happened.
He's just holding his head in for the "really" responsible guys behind it, the people that said "We need to make money with FFXIV NOW, so release it no matter what".
#18 Dec 10 2010 at 10:44 AM Rating: Good
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I pity people defending Tanaka and rating down every post that contains any critique of him. You guys are in denial of a little concept called "responsibility".
Tanaka was the EP - the executive producer. This is not some ******* who signs time sheets and organizes Christmas party, this is the guy who has the last say in anything that happens with the game. He fires and hires everybody on the team. He has the full control over the whole development process. E.g. all he had to do to get AH in the game is just a word. Ditto for the repairs, ditto for the auto-sort and all the other idiotic "features" we see in the game now. These are not the things that were not implemented due to time constraints. These are deliberate decisions somebody had to make. Even if you believe Tanaka has not made them you have to realize he had to approve every single one of them. And thus he bears the full responsibility.
This is not the elementary school where you get a gold star for trying. If you cannot do your job you get a boot sooner or later.
#19 Dec 10 2010 at 11:32 AM Rating: Excellent
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YES! This is the best news since Tanaka was assigned to FFXI. By the way, Komoto merely took over as director for Chains of Promathia when Kato left Square. Komoto was the original event director and in charge of the Bastok events, while Kato was responsible for the overall plot and event supervision. The original FFXI director, Ishii, was busy trying to revive the Mana series by then. FFXI's plot, through Promathia, was Kato's work.

The reason this is so exciting is because in an earlier interview with Tanaka, he stated he was working on another project that would be unveiled once his role in FFXIV was complete. This could be the next Chrono game... or something else. Whatever it turns out to be, this is exciting!

The battle system for FFXIV in in good hands, given Akihiko Matsui (apparently he had taken over as FFXI's director after Komoto, but has now moved to FFXIV) is now in charge. He designed the system for Legend of Mana, and also played roles in Chrono Trigger (placing monsters), SaGa Frontier and Final Fantasy XI (battle data), etc. This is exciting, and actually, Matsui would have been my first choice for FFXIV's battle director from the start.

Komoto will probably be working on revamping the job system for FFXIV, now. He has some experience there, having designed the gameplay system for Chocobo's Dungeon 2 in between his event planning work on Xenogears and FFIX. It will probably turn out more true to his vision now that he's free from the director's responsibilities.

This can only be good for FFXIV. Yoichi Wada hopefully (finally) realized that half-assed attempts can only get you so far. FFXIV has to be an investment, not some slapped-together game that relies on its name to sell copies. FFXI was great because it was put together by a team consisting of some of Square's best. I don't know why Wada would think he could get away with anything less for FFXIV... and now, he won't.

Oh, and I don't blame Tanaka at all... or Komoto. Tanaka said himself that FFXI was his vision of what makes a great MMORPG, while FFXIV is Komoto's attempt. Unfotunately, Komoto was too busy with his director duties to make the game he wanted. Both Takahashi (Xenogears) and Kato (Chrono Cross) know that director's duties are hard work, and everyday struggles can get in the way of the big picture. It's good to see him staying on as head of game design.

Tanaka, on the other had, is senior executive vice president and has been with Square since 1983. Honestly, he most likely became burned out after 11 years of working on MMORPGs. Not to mention the chaos of having to deal with the departure of so many experienced Square staff (for example, Katsuhisa Higuchi was the battle director for FFXI and had worked as a programmer on FFII, FFIII-V's battle system, CT's main program and Xenogears and Chrono Cross' battle program) who were involved with FFXI in favor of inexperienced staff who just couldn't get the job done. It looks like Tanaka will be enjoying himself again soon, not unlike Sakaguchi with The Last Story, and FFXIV's overall game design and battle system are now in capable hands, under a stable producer/diretor to handle the duties that may otherwise get in the way.
#20 Dec 10 2010 at 11:48 AM Rating: Good
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Quote:
Tanaka was the EP - the executive producer. This is not some ******* who signs time sheets and organizes Christmas party, this is the guy who has the last say in anything that happens with the game. He fires and hires everybody on the team. He has the full control over the whole development process. E.g. all he had to do to get AH in the game is just a word. Ditto for the repairs, ditto for the auto-sort and all the other idiotic "features" we see in the game now. These are not the things that were not implemented due to time constraints. These are deliberate decisions somebody had to make. Even if you believe Tanaka has not made them you have to realize he had to approve every single one of them. And thus he bears the full responsibility.


I'd like to add that the P/EP is usually the SOURCE of all clearly bad ideas. Not only does the EP take fault for approving bad ideas, but most of the time creating them. Nobody can oppose him even when the whole team thinks it's bad design. Because as the guy above says, the producers hire and fire at will. True story.

Game/gameplay designers, the people that build a career around knowing what works and what sucks, do you really think they would have made these decisions that are obviously wrong even to the 'lowly' user?

That leaves nobody else who could have made these decisions, besides know-nothing, control-hungry producers. More often than not, a bad game is the result of a project where specialists are not allowed to control their own department of the dev process. The BEST games, are the result of projects where everyone is given strongest say over their department of expertise. Producers do what they're supposed to, manage pay, hiring, and solving internal disputes. Tanaka, who in an interview admitted that he didn't know how ACHIEVEMENTS WORK when they ported FFXI to Xbox... Need any more proof that producers have no place dictating design decisions?

I always thought it was strange how a game company would go out of their way to hire the best-of-the-best of the different specialties, and then give them no power to make decisions they are experts in... It's like hiring a rocket scientist to build you a rocket, but insist he exactly put it together according to your plans on a cocktail napkin. What you'll get is a very big bomb.

the correct way to proceed is hand him the cocktail napkin, tell him "I imagine it something like this" and let him go to work without interference. If you properly hired a quality scientist, not only will the rocket match your rough outline, but it will function perfectly.

Edited, Dec 10th 2010 1:24pm by RattyBatty
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#21 Dec 10 2010 at 11:57 AM Rating: Good
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The One and Only FinalFanXIV wrote:
he reminded me in many ways of Richard Garriott creator of Tabula Rasa.


You mean LOOORD BRIIITISH!

(The aforesaid sentence was meant to be read in the voice of Queen Elizabeth.)
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#22 Dec 10 2010 at 12:33 PM Rating: Good
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As the Producer Tanaka bears the primary responsibility for the product that was released. If he was unable move his team in the right direction or was unwilling to do so the results and therefore the consequences fall primarily on him. By the same token the chain of command above him is not completely blameless. The fact that these "experienced" people allowed this to progress this far. is an indictment to their total lack of institutuional control.

to the originater of this post Richard Garriot aka Lord Britiish was 1 of the greatest innovators in the early days og RPGs. Many of his ideas formed the basis for RPG developement through the late 70s and through the 80s. Many of his concepts are still in use today. I can still remember anxiously waiting for the next installment of the Ultima series. It wasn't til he sold out to EA that his work took a major downturn.
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#23GumbyTKD, Posted: Dec 10 2010 at 12:37 PM, Rating: Sub-Default, (Expand Post) Here are my thoughts on what happened to Tonaka.
#24 Dec 10 2010 at 12:39 PM Rating: Decent
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GumbyTKD wrote:
Here are my thoughts on what happened to Tonaka.

http://29.media.tumblr.com/udTTAt3bJln2o5d94M9mfubEo1_400.jpg


I'm guessing you're going to be posting this a lot, aren't you?
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#25 Dec 10 2010 at 1:07 PM Rating: Decent
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Peter Griffin was made producer to what was supposed to be a theatrical performance of "The King and I" :) I hope others have seen that episode.
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#26 Dec 10 2010 at 1:12 PM Rating: Decent
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Rizon538 wrote:
As the Producer Tanaka bears the primary responsibility for the product that was released. If he was unable move his team in the right direction or was unwilling to do so the results and therefore the consequences fall primarily on him. By the same token the chain of command above him is not completely blameless. The fact that these "experienced" people allowed this to progress this far. is an indictment to their total lack of institutuional control.

to the originater of this post Richard Garriot aka Lord Britiish was 1 of the greatest innovators in the early days og RPGs. Many of his ideas formed the basis for RPG developement through the late 70s and through the 80s. Many of his concepts are still in use today. I can still remember anxiously waiting for the next installment of the Ultima series. It wasn't til he sold out to EA that his work took a major downturn.


Everyone has ups and downs in their career, Tanaka was the man behind Final Fantasy XI, which according to metacritic (And 7+ years of my own experience), wasn't all that bad of a game. As a leader, you have to accept responsibility for what happens. I do not hope to see Tanaka step out of Square-Enix completely in a repeat of what happened to Sakaguchi, who was also a great innovator.
#27 Dec 10 2010 at 6:06 PM Rating: Good
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TheLastStory wrote:
YES! This is the best news since Tanaka was assigned to FFXI. By the way, Komoto merely took over as director for Chains of Promathia when Kato left Square. Komoto was the original event director and in charge of the Bastok events, while Kato was responsible for the overall plot and event supervision. The original FFXI director, Ishii, was busy trying to revive the Mana series by then. FFXI's plot, through Promathia, was Kato's work.

The reason this is so exciting is because in an earlier interview with Tanaka, he stated he was working on another project that would be unveiled once his role in FFXIV was complete. This could be the next Chrono game... or something else. Whatever it turns out to be, this is exciting!

The battle system for FFXIV in in good hands, given Akihiko Matsui (apparently he had taken over as FFXI's director after Komoto, but has now moved to FFXIV) is now in charge. He designed the system for Legend of Mana, and also played roles in Chrono Trigger (placing monsters), SaGa Frontier and Final Fantasy XI (battle data), etc. This is exciting, and actually, Matsui would have been my first choice for FFXIV's battle director from the start.

Komoto will probably be working on revamping the job system for FFXIV, now. He has some experience there, having designed the gameplay system for Chocobo's Dungeon 2 in between his event planning work on Xenogears and FFIX. It will probably turn out more true to his vision now that he's free from the director's responsibilities.

This can only be good for FFXIV. Yoichi Wada hopefully (finally) realized that half-assed attempts can only get you so far. FFXIV has to be an investment, not some slapped-together game that relies on its name to sell copies. FFXI was great because it was put together by a team consisting of some of Square's best. I don't know why Wada would think he could get away with anything less for FFXIV... and now, he won't.

Oh, and I don't blame Tanaka at all... or Komoto. Tanaka said himself that FFXI was his vision of what makes a great MMORPG, while FFXIV is Komoto's attempt. Unfotunately, Komoto was too busy with his director duties to make the game he wanted. Both Takahashi (Xenogears) and Kato (Chrono Cross) know that director's duties are hard work, and everyday struggles can get in the way of the big picture. It's good to see him staying on as head of game design.

Tanaka, on the other had, is senior executive vice president and has been with Square since 1983. Honestly, he most likely became burned out after 11 years of working on MMORPGs. Not to mention the chaos of having to deal with the departure of so many experienced Square staff (for example, Katsuhisa Higuchi was the battle director for FFXI and had worked as a programmer on FFII, FFIII-V's battle system, CT's main program and Xenogears and Chrono Cross' battle program) who were involved with FFXI in favor of inexperienced staff who just couldn't get the job done. It looks like Tanaka will be enjoying himself again soon, not unlike Sakaguchi with The Last Story, and FFXIV's overall game design and battle system are now in capable hands, under a stable producer/diretor to handle the duties that may otherwise get in the way.


Wow i found this reply incredibly insightful... Thank you for the brief synopsis of the big execs and the games they were attributed to.. it helps put things in perspective when you konw where each is coming from and what they have accomplished in their careers.

And excellent first post =) rate up!
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