Volume 8 of the ヴァナ・ディール通信 (Vana'diel Tsuushin) came out today, and like most things once dedicated to Final Fantasy XI, it is being slowly assimilated by Square Enix's new MMO. The back of the magazine had a recap of information we have seen revealed over the past months organized into charts and pictures. In addition, a DVD was included with this volume, containing extended versions of A Pleasant Chat with Tanaka and the follow-up session with Komoto.
The original version of the interview with Tanaka, presented in Famitsu Wave, was around 12 minutes. The extended version clocks in at a full 26 minutes and contains some Final Fantasy XI information as well. Let's take a look at what was said.
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Tanaka Hiromichi Interview
There was a lot in the interview that was either for people unfamiliar with MMOs and Final Fantasy, or simply discussion of information we have already heard several times over. Here is what could be considered "new and interesting":
While Vana'diel was an entire world, Eorzea is just a region. Hydaelyn will be the name of the world in Final Fantasy XIV. Tanaka elaborates further on the difference between the worlds of FFXI and FFXIV, saying they are not just different planets, but in different universes altogether. In other words, you will not be digging up relics of Vana'diel on Hydaelyn or vice versa.
The five races are going to have a number of variations when compared with their Vana'diel counterparts. There are some obvious ones, such as tail-less Galka, but there are other more subtle changes as well upon which Tanaka would not elaborate further. The interviewer likens the concept to Osamu Tezuka, a famous manga artist whose distinct style was re-imagined through a wide variety of characters. Tanaka connects that allegory to Cid, who since Final Fantasy III, has appeared in many different forms throughout the series. The interviewer moves to ask if Goblins, Orcs and Yagudo might be re-imagined as well in FFXIV. Tanaka says, "It's possible," to which the excited interviewer happily tries to confirm their appearance. However, Tanaka quickly puts out another subdued "It's possible," as if to pull back the reins on this line of speculation.
Eorzea will be a land of swords and sorcery, but also have a more technological side than FFXI. Tanaka makes a comparison to Final Fantasy VI as a past Final Fantasy title that FFXIV is most similar too. He even hints that something similar to Magitek Armor could be in FFXIV.
In the extended version, Tanaka reviews all of the races. The interviewer expresses his interest in playing a Roegadyn, saying he's made up his mind already to choose them. However, he tries to pry information of any other possible races from Tanaka. Unfortunately, Tanaka simply says, "Hmm, I wonder?" and the interviewer is left snapping his fingers in mock frustration.
As stated before, there is no connection between FFXI and FFXIV, and this goes the same for any character data. Nothing is going to transfer over as far as equipment, stats and the like. However, they are interested in preserving Friend Lists somehow. This may be accomplished through utilizing Square Enix IDs, as they function for both FFXI and FFXIV. The exact methods have not be hashed out yet.
There is more beta talk in the extended version, but not much more information. Tanaka says they have not decided upon a beta schedule for FFXIV. The idea is to start showing the game relatively early in development (i.e. before a full beta is complete) in order to get user feedback. Keep in mind, this interview was conducted before Gamescom, so the alpha they presented there is probably the first stage of the process he is referring to here.
Referencing FFXI's beta period, the interviewer tries to push Tanaka into a admitting a beta schedule or release date with some leading questions. Loosely translated, he says, "Well, if a beta test runs 6 months, and you start in January, you could see a release by next summer, huh." Tanaka simply evades, saying, "Yeah, I don't know about that."
Final Fantasy XI is briefly touched upon in the course of conversation, with Tanaka once again assuring fans that the MMO will continue alongside FFXIV. A Moogle Kupo d'Etat has just been added, and next up is A Shantotto Ascension. They display the box art in the video, but the text beside it shows that the release date and price are still yet to be decided.
The interviewer mentions how Tanaka has been quoted saying a year's worth of Version Updates are planned in advance. Tanaka nods in confirmation, agreeing that FFXI is far from over. In fact, he then reveals that the story for Wings of the Goddess still has around a year to go before it is complete. In addition, there are still a number of ideas and plans the FFXI team has in store.
Will there be Version Updates after the release of A Shantotto Ascension? Tanaka says they intend to keep new updates coming out once every three months or so. As for full add-ons or expansions, he admits they have not planned past A Shantotto Ascension yet, but with that wrapping up, they are at the point where they will start thinking about what to do for the future of Final Fantasy XI.
Nobuaki Komoto Interview
Again, a lot of review here, so let's sift through for the good stuff.
Komoto talks about how the system in FFXIV tries to take the best parts from the FFXI Job System and build upon them. For example, the ability to freely change one's class and learn a different set of skills based on your weapon were two concepts they wanted in FFXIV.
In FFXIV, the "weapon" is what defines your character's current role. However, they are stretching the definition to cover not just swords and axes, but also magical weapons like the staff, or tools like the hammer. In FFXI, your equipment would change along with your job. FFXIV takes this idea a step further, and instead has the switching of equipment (your weapon) directly change what class you are using.
FFXIV will also evolve the process of party building. In FFXI, people might find themselves without a tank or healer, but there was always the chance a party member could switch to the necessary job. Players are once again afforded this luxury, but FFXIV is much more lenient, letting players change on the fly and not requiring long treks back to town.
While some abilities will be linked to weapons, there is a possibility that certain abilities will be usable across multiple classes. Komoto referenced the way in which FFXI allows players to use sub-jobs to access skills learned from different jobs. This will make its way into FFXIV, but in a different form. A character using an axe may still have access to magic, but it may not be as effective in battle as using the axe. As an example, Komoto says a Marauder may be able to use Steal, an ability not native to the class, but the success rate would be lower than normal.
For skilling up, they want to move away from the endless grinding against enemies, and instead allow a more fluid process of growth through quests. Again, variety will be the key as well as accommodating for those with various play styles and amounts of free time. They want to remove the walls from FFXI that would cause players to get frustrated and feel like they had no choice but to give up and leave the game.
When gathering members for a party in FFXI, players often utilize the /shout function. Komoto is looking to remove the need for this by providing different locations for players with similar goals to gather. Instead of having everyone just randomly sprawled around the city, there will be areas where people can go if they want to meet others and start quests quickly. For example, someone with only 30 minutes to play could login and be surrounded by characters ready to go, instead of waste their playtime seeking party.
In closing, Komoto presents a message to the readers of Vana'diel Tsuushin. He states, as does Tanaka, that FFXI is going to continue and still has many more Version Updates to come. He hopes that FFXIV will not become a "replacement," but rather "a new possibility," and that players will feel comfortable switching back and forth between the two, just as they would with any other games in their collection.