A Pleasant Chat with Tanaka

This month's Famitsu Wave DVD is out and about, and as promised, it featured a full 12-minute track dedicated to Final Fantasy XIV. While the interview pretty much covered the basics (What's an MMO? etc.) there were a couple very interesting things that Tanaka let slip. However, it took some eagle eyes and feline ears to catch it all.

For copyright reasons, we cannot rip the whole video and post it, so let's try something different. The video shows a one-on-one interview between Tanaka Hiromichi and Enterbrain CEO, Hamamura Hirokazu. More than delve into what gamers might want to know, they just sort of chill in front of a blank white wall and chat. Occasionally, key phrases from their conversation are plastered around the screen, which is a common practice of Japanese TV shows. In fact, this video is a play on a little program Enterbrain used to air where they would talk with people in the industry.

Anyway, I was discussing the video with Corinth, the feline half of JP Button and we had some fun pointing out all the hidden treasures it contained. I'm processing squiggly lines here at ZAM, while she does the same for the community at Eorzeapedia, but when something surprises you in a foreign language, we find it's good to have someone else who can confirm you are not crazy. After a long weekend of magazines and online articles, we thought in the spirit of the video itself, why not have some fun and let the fans in on the conversation, too?  We decided to put together an article that would mimic the style of the interview and allow us to explore further the things discussed within the video drawing on what we already know.

Read on to learn about all the things we found and discuss them on the ZAM forums!

Elmer: So, did you check out the video?

Corinth: Just did today thanks to shipping delays in my area.

Elmer: Yeah, Famitsu Wave can be kind of rare. It was only at one store in my area.

Corinth: Unlike Weekly Famitsu which you can find at almost any convenience store. I also picked up Comic Vanatsu though, so it was worth the trip to the bookstore.... in the rain.

Elmer: I was all excited because they said it would be the COVER GAME! .. but we just got two pages.

Corinth: It's actually more than I expected. There aren't a lot of pages in the actual magazine part. All the good stuff is usually on the DVD.

Elmer: Yea, I guess 2 pages is like half the magazine anyway. :D

Corinth: *giggles* One thing that did surprised me though was the lack of Gamescom coverage, but it sounds like that might happen next month.

Elmer: Ah, my curry arrived.

Corinth: Curry is a wonderful, wonderful food. It's very hard to go wrong with curry in Japan. Somebody was telling me the other day that many girls try to impress their boyfriends by making a dish known as nikujaga. It has meat, potatoes, and carrots most of the time. But if they screw up with the seasoning, they can try to wash away the broth and make curry instead since the base ingredients are the same.

Elmer: This curry is at a net cafe, but it doesn't look like the usual microwaved stuff they make. I thought it looked good because it has pieces of 蓮根 (ren-kon, lotus root) in it. I used to eat those like potato chips.

Corinth: Really? It's one of the few vegetables that I don't like here.

Elmer: I feel like this is turning into that JP Button food show we promised to do but never did. So how about that video? :D

Corinth: That's what we get for doing this at dinner time. The first part of the video is the interview between Hiromichi Tanaka and Hirokazu Hamamura. Both Hiros! They called it the "Nice little FFXIV chat with Hiro and Hama" but I think calling them both Hiro would have been cute too.

Elmer: I think my favorite thing about the video is it showed how funny Hiromichi Tanaka can be. Though we did see some of that at VanaFest.

Corinth: He comes off very stoic sometimes in interviews with the foreign press but he looks really at home with Japanese reporters and fans.

Elmer: Yeah, he always takes these pictures where he's half sleepy and half furious.

Corinth: Jet lag does that to a person. You know, before we get into the FFXIV stuff, one of the things that stands out right away is something you noticed first.

Elmer: Tanaka's bling?

Corinth: He's definitely sporting some bling. And I don't think he's the type to normally wear necklaces.

Elmer: Yeah, it definitely looked out of place, but it took me a while to really notice and investigate it further. Tanaka is wearing what appears to be the promised FFXI "dogtag."

Corinth: Finally!! The 2nd piece in the Players' Collection. It's been a year since the Tidal Talisman came out. I hope they aren't too expensive though. They look like they could make good collar tags for my chocobos and that would start to add up.

Elmer: If it's true, it would seem like a really clever wink & nod Tanaka gave by wearing it. Also, it's a nice way to show he still cares about the FFXI fans. A little hard to catch and without explanation, though I guess it fits for a company that is so stubbornly obtuse with its hints (Absolute Virtue) :)

Corinth: *cough* Less of that we see in FFXIV, the better!

Elmer: Yes, I do like how he is being much more open about FFXIV and exactly what they plan for it. I certainly appreciated the explanation of "high fantasy" they gave. I always assumed it meant "high-technology," like a steampunk kind of thing.

Corinth: Me too.

Elmer: According to Tanaka, a high fantasy is one where the races, city-states and societies are all fleshed out thoroughly and intrinsically tied into the game and its story -- instead of pushed to the background, I suppose.

Corinth: Now that I think about it though, I think he was making a distinction awhile back between FFXI and FFXIV, saying they were trying for high fantasy this time. But FFXI has in-depth story-lines for races and cities as well. Perhaps some of that technology factor is still a part of high fantasy after all.

Elmer: And he compared it to FFXIII a lot too, which always made me think technology. But apparently it has a lot to do with realism as well -- as in developed so much as to be comparable to our own world, in terms of history and culture.

Corinth: You can see that built into the story already with references to different clans for each of the races as well as the fact that Hyurans speak a variety of languages.

Elmer: They've certainly had a lot of time to do so. Tanaka said Nobuaki Komoto began work on FFXIV basically right after Chains of Promathia wrapped up.

Corinth: Speaking of Komoto, we learned a little bit about his personality as well. *laughs*

Elmer: Yea :) Besides the mini-bombshell, I think Komoto and his short-shorts was the funniest part of the video.

Corinth: Every time I see him, I think he belongs in Hawaii. Tanaka says that it's almost like Komoto has a shorts-only policy. He's never seen the guy wear full length pants before. Sure enough, he's wearing shorts in the segment at the end of the video too.

Elmer: It was great :D They talk about how Komoto finished Promathia, started on FFXIV... the interviewer is like "Wow, he's been on it that long, huh?" ... ... "He still wear shorts all the time?" And then this big picture of Komoto in shorts with that doofy grin on his face. :D

Corinth: I think my favorite moment was when Tanaka tries (and fails) to say the Japanese phrase for MMORPG and the two of them have a good laugh about it. In his defense though, it's really long.

Elmer: They spell it all out on the screen too. There was a lot of basic stuff like that for non-MMO players in the first half.

Corinth: Hamamura asks Tanaka what people should be careful about when playing an online game and he replies that unlike an offline game, there are people on the other side. Which led into the fact that there are people that beg for money too. >< It's really the people that make or break an MMO though.

Elmer: Hamamura asks him a lot of general questions about FFXIV as well, and it's funny how often Tanaka doesn't even know what to say. For example, Tanaka says the keyword of FFXIV is "growth" as we all know. So Hamamura asks, "What exactly do you 'grow' in FFXIV?" and Tanaka is like, "I dunno, lots of stuff." ...and they just burst out laughing.

Corinth: Tanaka is the master of avoiding answering questions. Let's see how many things we can find he is still keeping secret from us. There's the "growth" part, whether or not we'll have more than the 5 playable races, when the beta will start....

Elmer: It's like he brought home a bad report card. What do you mean, growth? "I dunno." How did you get this D? "I'll investigate and get back to you."

Corinth: More like, "How did you get this D?" "Memory limitations" Which is what they use in Japanese interviews all the time for PS2 limitations.

Elmer: But.... but... Let's not be too hard on Tanaka, because he was uncharacteristically lucid on one thing, which I like to call the bombshell of this interview.

Corinth: It was indeed a very interesting little tidbit. And one of those things I don't think anybody would have bothered to ask.

Elmer: It was around they time they were discussing the "high fantasy" aspect of FFXIV, and how it would be a more realistic world than FFXI.

Corinth: Then Tanaka tries to think of a comparison he can make and brings up one of my all-time favorite games, Final Fantasy VI!

Elmer: Yes! Final Fantasy VI.

Corinth: He even says we might see something like Magitek Armor.

Elmer: Yes, that was the part that just made my credit card leap out of the wallet and go, "Where to, sir?" Final Fantasy VI and the possibility of Magitek Armor.

Corinth: Speculation time! Magitek Armor from the distant enemies that fled Eorzea? Or perhaps as one of the methods of transportation?

Elmer: Although, he did make sure to temper his comment with some mumbly qualifiers. "There may, perhaps, be something similar to Magitek Armor possibly, to some extent." and then the interviewer is like "Well, will there be or not?!" :D

Corinth: I think it's pretty safe to say we'll see something like them in FFXIV.

Elmer: It would make a pretty sweet Guildleve.

Corinth: That was probably the biggest bit of information to come out of the video. There were things we already know like the names of the races, the fact that they put a lot of effort into the facial motions, and that the game will come out next year.

Elmer: Yeah, the interviewer didn't seem so pleased. He's like "Next year? What am I talking to you for?" -- but in a joking way

Corinth: *laughs* I thought he took it pretty well. He makes a guess that the beta will start in January but Tanaka does his best to neither confirm or deny it.

Elmer: I don't think Tanaka could confirm or deny his first name is Hiromichi. By the way, there were several LOL spots between Tanaka and the interviewer, but remember that part where the giant HA HA HA flies across the screen?

Corinth: *laugh* The interviewer got rejected quite a few times but that was the one time he really couldn't hold back. Tanaka tells him he think the game will come out next year. And Hamamura pauses a moment and jokingly digs into Tanaka saying "Next year? You already told us that at E3! Can't you give me a bit more? Just a bit?" And then he gives him a little look and says "You're so hard to crack." So they both burst out laughing.

Elmer: If anything, they seemed to have a lot of fun with the interview.

Corinth: I think so too. Part of that is probably because Hamamura is also a fan of FFXI. He used to play it with his son. You can tell he knows the series too because of his constant references to Galka and Mithra. An interviewer who wasn't as familiar with the series probably would have just used Roegadyn and Miqo'te when talking about the new races after reading a press briefing or something.

Elmer: Yeah, he kept saying ミスラっぽく, ガルカっぽく Mithra-like, Galka-like. I really think this is the side of Tanaka a lot of FFXI fans have always wanted to see, but from what I hear, only people at FanFest really get to experience it. He's a funny and interesting guy.

Corinth: I got to see him at Tokyo Game Show last year walking around in the special FFXI yukata they made. It looked like he was having a great time talking with the FFXI cos-players and taking pictures of them. I wish I had remembered to take a picture of him myself!

Elmer: There's always this year! I would hope they have something on the third Shantotto expansion at TGS, even if the focus is going to be on Final Fantasy XIII.

Corinth: We heard today that a new Vana'diel Collection including all 3 add-on scenarios will be going on sale in November. TGS would be the perfect time for them to advertise it on one of the public screens.

Elmer: Definitely. And we do have confirmation from the July 31st FFXI newsletter that new FFXI-related goods are going to go on sale.  So, anything left from the video? I believe we covered all the important stuff. Like Magitek Armor..............

Corinth: Well, there is the bit at the end with Komoto.

Elmer: Was he riding Magitek Armor?

Corinth: He was riding a stool.

Elmer: I guess we can talk about him. He did another one of those "words to the players" things at the end.

Corinth: Listening to him talk in this interview, I swear he sounds like Japanese actor Yuji Oda, from "Bayside Shakedown." He starts off by saying the same sort of things that Tanaka did. One of the things that sets online games apart from offline ones is the people. You meet people. You play with people you don't know. You buy and sell things and when you do, you know there is another person on the other side.

Elmer: Komoto really likes to romanticize the process of meeting and adventuring with other players.

Corinth: While talking like Yuji Oda. He likes to romanticize things too. Anyways, Komoto says the hardest part of development for an online game is working on version updates but at the same time, it's a lot of fun. You get feedback from the player base right away with online games.

Elmer: Their policy for FFXIV seems very promising. They are working to keep multiple sites up to date and have made it known they intend to work with overseas premiere sites much more closely than before. So I hope they are ready to really take in and act upon that feedback.

Corinth: That feedback is going to come from MMORPG veterans, long or short term players of FFXI, and players who are brand new to online gaming just like I was years ago starting FFXI. They are hoping that people who tried FFXI but didn't like it will give FFXIV a try. They also think there are FF fans out there who aren't really sure what an online game is like or if they'll be able to get used to playing with other people. Kotomo's final message to those people is that he hopes they will give FFXIV a try and experience a different kind of Final Fantasy than they've played in the past.

Elmer: I know he says that more than creating a great MMO, they wish to create a better Final Fantasy and do more with the series than they ever could before. Perhaps that is why Tanaka brought up Final Fantasy VI. It could be they are trying to give those "golden years" of Final Fantasy new life as an MMO with all the technology available in this generation of gaming. ... and Magitek Armor!

Corinth: Ok you Magitek nut. One final trivia question before we go. When was Final Fantasy VI released? And no looking at Wikipedia!

Elmer: 1994. I remember the copyright information at the end of the video.

Corinth: Awwwwwwww.

Elmer: Final Fantasy IV was 1991. I remember that because it's my favorite.

Corinth: And my least favorite!

Elmer: Least? What about V?

Corinth: V had a cute chocobo right from the beginning.

Elmer: OK, well let's wrap up before this gets out of control.

Corinth: I bet a lot of people will be thinking "All this for Magitek Armor?"

Elmer: Well, I think this conversation will help give them the feel of how the interview flowed. Very loose, off-topic here and there...

Corinth: Hopefully they don't get too bored

Elmer: If they do, they'll let us know on the ZAM forums!

Corinth: Or Eorzeapedia!

Elmer: Thanks for reading!


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# Aug 31 2009 at 12:30 PM Rating: Default
1,457 posts

Edited, Aug 31st 2009 1:31pm by GuardianFaith
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