You've seen dozens of interviews out of GamesCom that ask questions about how Final Fantasy XIV differs from XI. Ultimately, we wanted to know, "why was the decision made to make FFXIV so similar to FFXI?".
By now you've seen dozens of interviews out of GamesCom that ask questions about how Final Fantasy XIV differs from XI. We had our fair share of those questions, but ultimately we wanted to know, "why was the decision made to make FFXIV so similar to FFXI?". During the interview we asked Hiromichi Tanaka that very question and the answer was intriguing. "FFXI has been out for about eight years now; the graphical engine we used is very old. In that sense, we wanted to have something that the FFXI players can smoothly move on to" said Tanaka.
Make sure to check out our round table style interview with Q&As from our friend Chris Morell from the PlayStation Blog.
Discuss this interview on the ZAM forums!
PlayStation Blog: You guys recently talked at E3 about how the game kind of closely relates to Final Fantasy XI. I was kind of wondering how the monsters and races have changed from XI to XIV.
Hiromichi Tanaka: Because we're using a new graphic engine, the graphics are really different from FFXI and you can see more details on both monsters and races. Regarding the races, to encourage people to shift smoothly from FFXI, you will see very similar types of classes. But if you actually make your own character, you'll be able to select your own colour of hair, skin, eye color, shape of your face, etc. There will be a wide range of variety to customize.
ZAM: Why would you stick so rigidly to the class / race balance in FFXI, and are there more races we haven't seen in XI?
Tanaka: Regarding other races, we can't really make any comments at the moment, so please look forward to future announcements. About the balance of each race - it's different from FFXI. This time it's not going to be so much different from the beginning, as in unique racial skills per race, it really depends on which skills you select by yourself and how you're going to grow your character - then that is really going to affect your lifestyle. The abilities and stuff aren't really going to be affected by the race you select. You can just select by the appearance.
ZAM: Will the genders of the races continue to be limited like with the Galka and Mithra in FFXI?
Tanaka: Yes, at the moment, for Miqo'Te there's only a female version, and Roegadyn only has a male version - that's their current status.
PlayStation Blog: I remember reading around after E3 that you mentioned there might be a way to transfer your name over from FFXI. Is that still planned - are you still working on that? Is there a plan on how you're going to do it?
Tanaka: It hasn't been confirmed yet, but we would like to give incentives to the players. First of all, FFXI has 32 worlds, and they may have the same name across different worlds, as I'm sure you know. Each name in each world has to be a unique; there can't be conflicts with other players. However, when we have FFXIV, we still don't know how many worlds there's going to be yet, but players might have the same name if they all move to the same world, so there may be conflicts. So, to avoid that, what we're trying to do is add a surname to their name, so players can keep their main name, but they can add something else to their surname - that way players with overlapping names can keep their names from FFXI, but they can add something on to it to make it unique.
ZAM: How large will the overall world of FFXIV be in comparison to FFXI at the games launch?
Tanaka: Compared to FFXI's Vana'diel launch point, FFXIV may be slightly smaller. However, because the graphic is more detailed and there is more content, we don't think you will feel that the world is small or anything like that. Also, one thing to mention is that FFXI was zone based, but FFXIV is going to be seamless, so from the city to the battlefield, you won't notice any sort of zone change.
PlayStation Blog: You mentioned that the combat system will have less of a team play aspect. I know it's been a few months since the game was announced - can you elaborate on that, and how it's different, and how much progress you've made in the past few months since it was announced?
Tanaka: For FFXI, the system was job based, so that's why they had a party to make the most out of each job. This time it's not going to be a job based system, it's going to be an Armoury system, so it depends on which weapon you use and you can switch your class. That allows the player to use a different ability or skills. You can also join a party, that doesn't mean you have to play solo, but it will allow you to play solo as well, because you can fight against monsters and you can change to a healer to heal yourself. So there will be more variety and it depends on what you plan on doing for that day.
ZAM: Do you feel confident that FFXIV on the PS3 won't suffer from the same limitations that FFXI eventually experienced on the PS2?
Tanaka: With FFXI, there were many PS2 limitations, but this time, we can work with hi-def and the network for PS3s and PCs are almost the same, so there shouldn't be any problem. The one difference between PCs and PS3s could be around the memory management system, so that's something we're really taking care of. Even when we say PC, there are different specs, so the system itself is going to be scalable. One of the settings we have should be the "best" for PS3, so there shouldn't be as many limits as we experienced with FFXI.
PlayStation Blog: You talked about the levelling system not being experienced based, I was just wondering if you were able to tell us exactly what kind of system you're working on, and has it been completely defined?
Tanaka: This time it really depends on the Armoury system. It's going to depend on how much you use your own equipment and weapons. The more you use it, the more the skill will go up of your class, so that's the way you will get to higher levels for the class - the skills. You'll also get abilities. It's not going to be like if you fight more monsters, you'll get more level ups, like similar to the experience system. Of course, if you fight against monsters, you will get some skill points, but it will help more if you attend to Guildleves. So that will be a more efficient way to hone your skills and 'level up' your character.
ZAM: One of the first things that we noticed about FFXIV was how similar it looked to FFXI in graphics, game play style - really in every sense of the word. Why is that, and is that a concern that you might be dragging over FFXI players by primarily targeting that already established consumer audience?
Tanaka: (Laughs) I think it's simply because the same people are making the game.
ZAM: Well, we can agree companies make games that are different from one another. I was just curious as to why FFXIV is so very, very similar. Most companies, when they make additional MMOs, they try to change their focus so that they don't take their existing consumer base away from a game that's already established. I guess the question is, aside from the obvious "the same talent behind the game," aspect, why was the decision made to make FFXIV so similar to FFXI?
Tanaka: FFXI has been out for about eight years now; the graphical engine we used is very old. In that sense, we wanted to have something that the FFXI players can smoothly move on to. So yes, in that sense, it could be very similar to Final Fantasy XI, so it's easier to switch for them. Also, for the race, that's something that we did on purpose to make it very similar to FFXI so that it's easier for people to go from FFXI to come to FFXIV, so that's why I feel it's very similar. As you mentioned earlier, maybe other companies make totally different MMOs to not get users from their original MMOs, but in this, I think we have a different policy or something in that sense. We are providing FFXIV for the FFXI community - as another game they can enjoy, so that's the primary target. Also, we want Final Fantasy players to enjoy the game who haven't played MMOs before, and we also want MMO players who haven't played the Final Fantasy series. We are trying to reach several different targets, but the first one will be FFXI players.
*The follow-up question and answer wasn't captured correctly due to a voice recorder malfunction. We're attempting to recover the audio for a future amendment.*
ZAM: What were some of the biggest lessons you learned in FFXI, and how did those lessons help you make decisions when developing FFXIV?
Tanaka: The main thing we learned from FFXI was that once we launched the game, we communicated with our players to receive feedback and improve the game and improve the game experience. So we really believe that communication with our players is the most important thing, and that is something we would like to continue for FFXIV as well. Also, we think FFXI was very different from other online games because we have a cross-platform system and a cross-region system, which is different from other MMOs. This is something we believe is a good decision and we believed it helped us create a successful game. This is something we'd really like to continue for FFXIV as well.
ZAM: The guild linkshell system in FFXIV was very unique, and some players loved it and some players didn't like it - obviously because it was so unfamiliar. What kind of plans do you have for FFXIV in terms of guilds?
Tanaka: We are currently working on it, so we can't really go into details, but what we're trying to do is, while linkshells were more like communication tools, this time we are trying to let the players aim for something by joining these kinds of organizations. In this way, players will have a purpose to achieve by working together in the same organizations, so please look forward to further announcements. Also, we will provide a website and people will be able to communicate with each other via these websites as well. We do have a linkshell community site already, but this new version is going to be totally different, and will have more interesting tools.
ZAM: Will it be more like a traditional Facebook or other social networking applications that have become popular over the years?
Tanaka: Because there's already Facebook in a lot of popular social net services already, what we're trying to provide is more like the actual information that people can use to use those social networks, because we don't want to force players to use our social network. We're sure they have their own favorite. What we're trying to do is give them the information by which they share through their social network services.
ZAM: With the two mini content updates for FFXI already out and the third one set to come out at some point in the future, are there any plans for at least one more large scale expansion for the game before FFXIV comes out?
Tanaka: We're still working on the third of the new scenarios, so we're not sure what we have after that. We might start working on something new for FFXI; we might not, so we can't really comment on that.
Andrew "Tamat" Beegle