Dengeki - Interview with Tanaka and Komoto

Final Fantasy XIV Producer Hiromichi Tanaka and Director Nobuaki Komoto sit down for another interview with Dengeki magazine.  They reiterate what a busy time Gamescom was, and Tanaka attributes the presence of the well-received alpha demo to the hard work of Komoto and his team.

Now, it is time to go beyond the developer version shown and get some more details about how the game is shaping up.  There are some interesting new things to learn in this interview, so let's take a look.

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Graphics and Customization

Final Fantasy XIV is all about customization.  In fact, the game is centered around the Guildleve and Armoury Systems, which allow players to tailor the game to their play style and available time.  Tanaka states that Guildleve is probably the greatest difference between Final Fantasy XI and XIV.  With Guildleve, you have a clear goal, you gather friends together and you play on your own terms.  The Armoury System further allows the player the freedom to switch jobs anywhere, which is their way of expanding upon the popular Job Change system from FFXI.

The graphics in FFXIV are also set to allow an unprecedented level of customization.  Although the races look similar to the ones available in FFXI, which Tanaka says is to aid FFXI users in smoothly transitioning over, they plan to open up a new world of variation for designing avatars.  Even graphical features that were not added to characters in FFXI, such as necklaces and belts, are being considered for FFXIV.  Tanaka goes as far as to say, "We're even talking about showing the rings on their fingers," as he chuckles.

The power of this generation's technology will allow for seamless areas, although Tanaka makes a correction saying the entire world being seamless was a mistranslation.  Seamless travel refers to individual areas being much bigger, with perhaps a single "area" in FFXIV being equivalent to the size of a full region in FFXI.  However, players can rest assured that monsters will not chase you endlessly over the vast terrain.

Areas of the game will basically be separated into Fields and Towns.  In towns, you will have access to the Aetheryte, and various areas to gather with friends and/or chat.  While FFXI did not allow Auto-Attack to function in towns, FFXIV uses a different system, so players will be able to draw their weapons even while inside town.

Weather will also be an element of the game, but the way in which it will be implemented will be different.  The interviewer suggests that weather could affect one's performance, but Tanaka feels that while the realism would be neat at first, people would start avoiding certain areas just due to weather.  Still, they want to make weather have certain effects, although the idea is not completely fleshed out yet.

Positioning in battle is something else the team is considering to add to the depth of strategy.  The interviewer referred to a display on the screen indicating the player attacked from the right.  This lead to a question of whether height would play a part in battle as well, for instance, elevated terrain giving an advantage.  They are going to see what they can do with tactics involving positioning, but are more reluctant on the subject of elevation.  Tanaka feels that position of the player relative to the enemy is an important aspect of battle, and that working in elevated terrain could open the door for abuse. 

Some Things Change, Others Stay the Same

In FFXIV, the Crystal as a individual's Home Point is becoming the Crystal as social gathering site.  The developers see Aetheryte as the starting point of adventure - literally, the spot where Guildleve begins.  In a way, Aetheryte takes the place of the Mog House, the main function of which was to switch jobs and serve as a gathering point.  It can also be used to travel between towns, or transport oneself out to battle some monsters.  So, if Aetheryte handles so much of the legwork, will Chocobos have a place in FFXIV?  While Komoto is still looking into what role Chocobos will play in Eorzea, he realizes they are an icon of the series, and their inclusion must satisfy all the fans waiting to meet the newest incarnation of the beloved birds.

As for more personal changes, we know that FFXIV will facilitate the transfer of one's online avatar from Vana'diel to Eorzea by offering similar races, but how will the characters evolve from that point?  Komoto states they are considering some cosmetic differences beyond equipment, such as being able to change one's hairstyle.  However, they are not going to let you completely change your appearance, such as choice of face.  The interviewer asks, in regards to weapon deterioration, whether characters will also physically age, but Komoto just laughs and says that is not something they are considering.

Another big chance for FFXIV is the addition of voice acting.  Previously, it was reported that all cut-scenes would be fully voiced in English.  However, Komoto says this is an over-statement of the facts and not every NPC in every cut-scene will be voiced.  Important cut-scenes central to the story will have voice acting included.  The idea is that if they want the player to be focusing more on the scene before them instead of reading subtitles, you can expect a voice-over track.  Unfortunately for some, the voices are still planned to be recorded in English only.  The reason is that they want to keep up a regular schedule of version updates, and having to translate and re-record all the scripts in multiple languages would cause too much of a delay.

Wear and Tear and Repair

One of the fundamental things that will connect battle-oriented classes and crafting classes is the addition of weapon deterioration.  Characters will need to regularly seek the aid of a crafter, such as a blacksmith, in order to keep their weapons in prime shape.  Besides weapons, shields and armor will also have durabilities that deteriorate.  The current states of a piece of equipment will also affect its market price.  Whether or not these change will be reflected graphically or not is still something that is being considered.

The idea is that there will be some gathering place, similar to Aetheryte for Guildleve, where players can go to meet up with a Blacksmith and get some repair work done.  Search Comments, which were a popular way to advertise buying/selling will also be making their way in to FFXIV.  Komoto also realizes that their may be times when a Blacksmith is not available, and he is thinking of how to address this.  "It's not like you'll have to wander around with a broken weapon forever," Komoto jokes.

However, do not expect a crafter to magically fix your equipment on the first try.  A crafter's skill will play into whether they can successfully repair a piece of equipment.  Luckily, Tanaka adds that even if a crafter fails at a repair attempt, they will not lose the weapon or armor being worked on.

Crafters will have other unique abilities, such as being able to add their own colors or patterns to the equipment they make.  It is also possible that shop signs will be made available to long-time players, although Komoto says they are still considering different options.  As for battle, it appears that crafting classes may have some abilities that could be utilized for light battles, but have little strength when compared to a battle-oriented job.

Guildleve

Guildleve is basically the daily life of an adventurer in Eorzea.  First, the player goes to an adventurer's guild where they can take on a number of Guildleves.  Then they gather at the Aetheryte with other adventurers or go it solo.  After completing their required quests (and maybe help their friends with some as well) they can return and repeat the process.  The idea is that people will visit a guild, pick up several Guildleves, and they would have something to do for the next few days.

As items, the physical Guildleves are "metal plates," as Tanaka puts it, and allow you to undertake a specific task.  Anyone can participate in anyone else's Guildleve, which makes it easy to gather people and do quests together.  The system itself will also be exceptionally large, including a wide variety of quests for all different classes.  There will be Guildleves that help you skill up, and Guildleves wherein you hunt down Notorious Monsters.  There will even be solo Guildleves, which Komoto states should take around 30 minutes to complete.  "I thought it would be good if even someone with only an hour to play each day can complete about two of these," Komoto said.

Players should be aware, however, that there is a limit to how many Guildleves a single player can personally initiate within a set period of time.  If you hit this limit, you can still help others with their Guildleves.

Misc. Q & A

Although there is no time for one at this stage in the development process, Komoto expresses his interest in having official offline events.

The Square Enix Security Token will be used in conjunction with FFXIV to boost account security, but it is not required to create an account.

Komoto says the control layout for FFXIV will not change much from FFXI.  You can also still use a PC game controller if you wish.

In its current state, FFXIV does not allow one to change the window size or enlarge the text, but it is something they do plan to add.

Windowed mode is set to be a basic feature of FFXIV from the start.  There are going to be web-based community tools and want to make it so you can have access to these while playing.

Miqo'te will have cat ears on the top of their head, just like Mithra.  Komoto begins to wonder how they will be able to wear glasses, and starts laughing, joking with the interviewer to please go to the next question.

Although FFXIV races are similar in appearance to FFXI races, the lack of tails on Roegadyn were one of the changes they decided upon to make Eorzean races unique.

Characters in FFXIV will be much more expressive with a wider range of emotes and motions.  Motion capture technology was used to create all of the body movements the avatars can express. Multiple characters being able to emote something together presents a number of obstacles for the developers, but they are considering it along with any ways to facilitate communication.

There is a running joke with the leader of the Lightning Brigade, a TaruTaru, who wants to be able to ride Galka. When asked if this could be made available through an emote, the developers laugh, saying they realize Leader has his hopes up, but it would be a little too difficult to actually implement.

Conversely, the interviewer brings up an interesting point, saying that the removing Auto-Attack and making players select every action could make it much harder to communicate during battle.  Tanaka admits it will have an effect perhaps, but he encourages players to think of the new system as like having a lot more weaponskills at your disposal.

The suggestion is made that macros could be set up that simulate Auto-Attack, but they feel this could make battle more complicated if not done properly.

Final Thoughts

Komoto reiterates how they plan to show pieces of FFXIV as the development cycle continues. They have focused extensively on Guildleve and information on the races is plentiful, so next up will be a deeper look into the Armoury System.  At the last second, Tanaka interjects, revealing that the graphical side of FFXIV is only 50% complete and players can expect big changes as we get closer to the final version.

Comments

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Good stuff
# Sep 10 2009 at 9:31 PM Rating: Decent
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67 posts
This was a good read - thank you. I'm just praying that they announce something beta related at TGS :X.
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