I must admit -- Square Enix has been making many promises regarding Final Fantasy XIV, but I fell victim to the pessimism. They offered new items, new monsters, free months and more, but like many of our forum goers, I still felt disillusioned.
However, today's announcement has blown me away. Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada stepped up and initiated a complete overhaul of the development team roster. Hiromichi Tanaka has stepped down from his role as Producer, and Nobuaki Komoto has moved from Director to Lead Game Designer.
Adventurers can rest easy knowing that Naoki Yoshida is now at the reigns.
Wait, who is Naoki Yoshida?
Naoki Yoshida (吉田直樹) is a game developer and director who joined Square Enix in 2004. His career has focused heavily on Role-Playing games, most recently the Dragon Quest Monster Battle Road series -- an RPG card game hybrid played on arcade machines.
It looks like there is even less information on Mr. Yoshida than we thought. I originally found this page among others, through chatter on Japanese forums. Despite having the correct picture and describing Yoshida as working at Square Enix, the games in the list are apparently for another Naoki Yoshida with identical kanji.
The only other information available points to his experience with RPGs and Action titles.
However, forum-goer Quinsisdos has pointed out a helpful post on NeoGAF that sheds a little light on the whole team:
For those interested in knowing what the new core members of the team have done in more specific terms...
Producer/Director: Naoki Yoshida [Director of S-E's Dragon Quest Monster Battle Road series of arcade games.]
Section Leader Changes
Assistant Director: Shintaro Tamai [Graphics director for various FF games (7, 8, 10, 13) mostly specializing in battle graphics and special effects. He was also the director of Front Mission 5.]
Lead Game Designer: Nobuaki Komoto [Originally director of FFXIV, it seems they're reducing his responsibilities so he can focus on designing the stuff he originally specialized in on FFXI - the scenario and quest design.]
Lead Combat System Designer: Akihiko Matsui [Originally the lead battle data planner for FFXI, he took over entirely as battle director for Aht Urhgan and Wings of the Goddess after Katsuhisa Higuchi left S-E.]
Technical Advisor: Yoshihisa Hashimoto [Ex-Sonic Team programmer, director of Sonic Unleashed and technical director of the Hedgehog Engine. Left Sonic Team and joined S-E in 2009 to work on their next-generation engine platform.]
Lead Programmer: Hideyuki Kasuga [Network programmer for the FFXI client and Dirge of Cerberus online mode. Lead programmer for Gyromancer.]
Senior Concept Artist: Akihiko Yoshida [FFXIV Art director, character designer for all of Matsuno's games, character designer for FF3 DS and FF 4 Warriors of Light. God's gift to S-E's art teams.]
Lead Artist: Hiroshi Takai [Mostly a battle graphic/effects director for most of the SaGa games, more recently overall director of The Last Remnant.]
Lead UI Designer/Lead Web Designer: Hiroshi Minagawa [Director of FFXII and Tactics Ogre PSP. Art director for all of Matsuno's games. God's other gift to S-E's art teams.]
At least my closing paragraph stays somewhat intact though, as Naoki Yoshida is still a bit of an enigma. Many of us have felt burned by Square Enix before, but a fresh new developer at the helm sounds exciting, so let's give him the benefit of the doubt.
Let us know what you think in the ZAM Forums!