Friday's here, and like a flash of lighting, Dengeki magazine brings us an interview with Tanaka and Komoto, the dynamic duo behind Final Fantasy XIV! This interview was printed in the Final Fantasy XI section of the magazine by the Dengeki Lightning Brigade, a team of Final Fantasy XI players. From the looks of the interview, the Team shared the same time with the other Japanese media sites at E3, but being loyal fans of Final Fantasy XI, the Dengeki Team also made sure to sneak in some questions on how the new MMO will relate to and affect our beloved Vana'diel. A good read for any Final Fantasy XI fan.
After the Q&A, the Dengeki Team also takes a look at the beautiful concept illustration that I am sure is gracing many-a-desktop recently. Do their speculations match up with any of yours?
Does the new land of Eorzea hold any connections or similarities to Vana'diel?
Tanaka reiterates that while Vana'diel was an fully developed world, Eorzea is simply a region within the world of Final Fantasy XIV. This will, however, be the main region in which players interact, so webmasters who snatched up an Eorzea based URL can breathe a sigh of relief. The world itself will be named ハイデリン (ha-i-de-ri-n), but we have yet to receive an official English spelling of the word. As for differences between the two worlds, Final Fantasy XIV will be a little more "high-tech" in line with the sci fi style of Final Fantasy XIII. However, they still wish to have the foundation of the game's setting based in traditional fantasy.
Are there any connections beyond the style of Avatars?
Tanaka states that players can go into Final Fantasy XIV expecting no significant similarities. However, they realize some comforts just cannot be abandoned so easily - like friends. Therefore, they are looking at ways to allow names to transfer as well as other methods to keep adventurers together. The main objective here is to make transferring to Final Fantasy XIV as comfortable as possible without providing the advantage of transferring completed characters. The ideal situation is one in which players can choose freely between playing in Vana'diel one day, and Eorzea the next. Tanaka envisioned a new door in one's Mog House that would act as a dimensional portal into Eorzea, allowing players in either game to quickly join their friends wherever they may be. Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, Tanaka was unable to bring this plan to fruition.
If there are no levels, how do characters advance?
Although Final Fantasy XIV will eschew the traditional leveling system in favor of something new, there will be parts of the Job System that make it over. Most importantly, they wish to retain the concept of being able to switch roles and work on one job one time and another job the next time. At this time, the developers are unable to give any specifics.
How will the payment plan look?
While Final Fantasy XI runs on a monthly plan through PlayOnline, Final Fantasy XIV will drop PlayOnline and utilize the recently established Square Enix IDs and Security Tokens. The monthly plan is also due for a change, and Tanaka says they are considering a more versatile plan, based on 30-day payment cycles. Some people have been confused by this, but all it involves is altering when a player's plan stops and starts. If you count by days instead of months, you have the freedom to stop and start more freely. This would allow billing to break free from the shackles of the monthly cycle and possibly really help out customers by helping them avoid paying for unused time and lessen the inconvenience of the regularly scheduled billing maintenance.
How is the announcement of Final Fantasy XIV affecting the current players?
Tanaka realizes that playing both XI and XIV could take up way too much time for the average player. Taking this into account, Final Fantasy XIV is designed to be much lighter on one's schedule and contain a wider variety of content so players can find the best way to enjoy the game for themselves. Final Fantasy XIV definitely will not be as rough on the player, and it is speculated that this will cause as eventual shift of users to the game.
Is this the untimely end of Final Fantasy XI?
Updates for Final Fantasy XI are planned out for the next year already, and there is no intention to stop after that. The development team has been divided between both games for some time now, so Tanaka says there is no reason to panic. There is still much more left that the team wants to do. Even within the next two Version Updates, the developers claim there is plenty of content in the works, and it will be tough to get it all in. Of course, this includes the next add-on scenario, "A Moogle Kupo d'Etat" - an addition that all players can look forward to!
When does the Beta start?!
According to the announcement, Final Fantasy XIV will go on sale and begin service sometime in 2010. Looking at how things will go forth, Tanaka confirms that a beta test beginning next year will be most likely, with the test leading into the public release of the game. However, the exact timing is still unknown.
A word for Final Fantasy XI players...
Tanaka states his admiration for the players helping Final Fantasy XI to continue all these past seven years and how they helped it mature into such a fantastic experience. While Final Fantasy XIV will take the series in a new direction, Tanaka sincerely looks forward to delivering something that all users can thoroughly enjoy, and hopes you look forward to its release.
Komoto also expresses his fascination at the amazing world that the users have built Final Fantasy XI into. Komoto hopes to continue to develop a place where users can meet each other, make lasting friendships, maintain sporting rivalries, and most importantly, enjoy the experience in any manner they wish. Final Fantasy XIV will be an MMO that provides such freedom, and introduce a new land in which players can accompany their friends and challenge their rivals.
Oh, boy! Speculation!
After the interview closed, the Dengeki Team decided to take their own crack at the concept art from the official Final Fantasy XIV site. Here is what they had to say:
The Crystal: The appearance of the Crystal is something common between XI and XIV, although the shape is noticeably different. Will they play a key role in XIV as well, perhaps used as weapons?
The Races: We can see what looks like a Taru behind a table. Is he taller than XI's Taru, or is he just standing on a chair? Will they be as well-versed in the magical arts?
The Armor: There is a blonde haired adventurer with his back to us, and he is wearing a hat that is similar to Black Mage Relic armor. Will there be job-specific equipment again? For that matter, will there be a Job System?
The Characters: Sitting at the far-right table, there seems to be a half-Hume, half-Elvaan character with a spear. Will XIV allow for more versatility in character creation?