4Gamer Interviews Naoki Yoshida

Within the first three months of service, Final Fantasy XIV has changed considerably, both in-game and out. Now, with the development team restructured, Naoki Yoshida is at the helm and ready to win back an overwhemingly unsatisfied audience. According to our poll here on ZAM, most players are happy with a new producer and director, but we still do not know much about him or his plans to turn the game around.

This week, 4Gamer sat down with Yoshida for his first in-depth interview since being appointed to FFXIV. Read on to see what he has to say.

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Many people, including the interviewer, were shocked to see such a momentous change coming only three months into the game's life. However, Yoshida notes that this is exactly why such a restructuring was made -- to make the necessary changes early on that will make FFXIV an MMO worthy of its namesake. The new producer understands the weight the "Final Fantasy" name carries for the company and its many fans, and is ready to pump out quality updates for three, six even ten years to come.

Giving FFXIV new life is something that has begun to engulf the entire company. Tactics Ogre Director Minagawa was brought in as a UI and Web Content artist and directors from Final Fantasy XII were also tapped to spruce up the user interface. "As we stated in the 'New Development Team Policy' on the Lodestone," says Yoshida, "Square Enix, as a whole, will work vigorously, now more than ever, to deliver a satisfying experience for all our customers."

While the new team is in place and working hard, Yoshida is unable to provide any solid details on what is in store or a time frame in which the effects of the new team might be seen. The current goal is to get out updates chock full of content and carry the game towards its first major milestone. At this time, updates (including the December ones) have been putting out content developed by the previous team. What Yoshida plans to prioritize the promises the previous team made to the players and making sure everyone's voice is heard and has a part in the development process On January 1st, Yoshida will post another comment to detail more of his plans.

As for the task before him, Yoshida details FFXIV as a game in disarray, though also a victim of the times. Games like World of Warcraft and FFXI have been around for many years now, which he says has set the bar much higher for MMOs. "People want loads of content right off the bat, and third-party addons are a given now," Yoshida admits, "its a tough situation for new games." Yoshida lists end-game content, UI fixes, tutorials and in-game terminology as things that FFXIV needs to get right, and fast. The complexity of the game especially is something that players have struggled with since the beginning. As 4Gamer puts it, "If you can't understand the rules of the game, you can't understand how to enjoy it."

The user interface is set to undergo some significant changes to accommodate for the vast difference in play styles between a game controller and keyboard/mouse setup. Yoshida admits he is a stickler for a smooth UI as well, and Mingawa was brought in as someone who is "second to none" at UI development. Interface lag is another key problem the developers are looking to stamp out, and they are working to identify the technological issues behind the slowdown people are experiencing.  Yoshida also shows his experience regarding MMOs, and sees games like WoW as an example of how users can also help reinvent the UI through addons.  This is a big change from the days of FFXI, and something Yoshida wishes to support fully.

All these issues are also keeping the PlayStation 3 delayed, as the key is "regaining customer trust" before launching a new version. Yoshida takes some of the blame as well, saying part of the reason there is no longer a solid release date is because he does not like to make promises he cannot keep. The only promise Yoshida will make regarding the console port is that "they will never give up on it."

Wrapping up the interview, 4Gamer tests Yoshida as a Final Fantasy fan, and ask him what the series means to him. While he says the answer may be different for each fan (and especially different between players and developers) he sees Final Fantasy as providing a world in which the player can become fully absorbed. In that sense, presenting Eorzea as a world with yet untold wonder for players to experience makes it feel like the true Final Fantasy in his eyes.

And his favorite title in the series? "Final Fantasy VII," he says. "Even talking with fans from North America and Europe, you hear how it leaves an impact you never forget." It's that kind of powerful, lasting content that Yoshida now wishes to bring the FFXIV.


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Getting bored....
# Jan 02 2011 at 10:36 PM Rating: Decent
Is there anything to do besides LeveQuests and Crafting in this game lol?

Lately that's all I have seen people do and that's all I have been able to do. Am I missing something here?

Edited, Jan 2nd 2011 10:38pm by Gatubella

I would like to see...
# Jan 02 2011 at 1:18 PM Rating: Decent
7 posts
I would like to see more side quests like the lot of you. It was a big part in my XI playing career and don't want it to be gone forever. I miss having rank, fame, so you're known by the NPC; as someone said it makes you feel like your character is really a part of the world. I also do miss the conquest points in which you could turn them in for specific items from each city.

Another thing is social interaction. I honestly barely see any chatting going on and even then, most people are from XI already in their old linkshell groups. That's fine and dandy, but what about the rest of us that want to make some new friends? It's not as simple to make new friends since there isn't a LFP flag or anything. *scratches head* Quite honestly, I've done really no EXP/SP parties it's mostly been a handful of people I know just doing Levequests like twice a week. It kind of gets old fast.

Mog House is a nice idea because I think it may clear the roads in towns more and it wont be as congested, plus the upside of making some people happy with being able to decorate their own home.

PVP needs to be added some where along the road, for those types of players. However, I think that it should be made in a way like Ballista was where you could participate if you wanted to, and not be ridiculously slaughtered the moment you exit town.

On a technical issue, I really wish they'd fix the servers from doing the game error & lobby error. Oh and the classic Direct x error. I at least one a day get one of those errors and it drives me crazy since it tends to happen right in the middle of a levequest or when I'm walking some place. Anyone else have those problems still?

With this new team in place, I am hopeful that the game will blossom into something great like XI was/is. I just hope it doesn't take until March for them to add something new or fix the current issues that are still going on because that would be truly disappointing.

If anything, please keep us updated SE on your plans even if they're small. It's nice to know what's going on instead of being in the dark for a long time. I like surprises as much as the next person, but we have our ears tuned in to you to hear what's in store for the future of this game.
I would like to see...
# Jan 03 2011 at 9:37 PM Rating: Decent
4 posts
You know. I also really enjoyed Conquest Points, Rank, Side quests, Fame within cities.

I'm not a huge fan of the whole 'Hey I'm level 1 wearing level 50 nerfed gear'. In FFXI Gear was spunky and full of life Distinguishing class from class many of times! I feel like I'm just another worthless pawn stabbing the hourly rushes of Behest, For no real reason aside from some SP and XP... Play 10 min wait 50, Rinse repeat.

# Jan 01 2011 at 12:03 PM Rating: Decent
1 post
We need the side quests and storyline quests to give out more rare items such as armor and weaponry, items that can be equipped and used immediately. Getting rare synthesis items is kinda lame I mean its cool to sell if its worth a lot of gil or usable if your a high enough lvl but one thing I liked about WoW was getting cool armor and weapons that can only be acquired through random side quests. It really gave me a sense of accomplishment and can visually see the effects of my hard labor and time invested. Plus the use of side quests really helps to move characters around the world, once u have accomplished a few and begin reaching a higher lvl for that area, the quests will begin sending players to other towns and cities which will in turn eventually open up newer and higher lvl quests. I understand that the storyline kinda does that now but we shouldn't have to rely on 1 set of quests to get us up and moving about.
I love Final Fantasy, I know they wont let us down.
# Dec 31 2010 at 6:36 PM Rating: Decent
2 posts
Awesome! I'm excited in the new direction the developers are going! Especially the possibly of third party add-ons! However, saying for the PS3 that "they will never give up on it."?? Well, guess I won't be holding my breath for that one. Sounds like it may not even happen now!! Dang it!! All PS3 owners had better start saving up for a decent desktop to play this with! Please SE! Get the PS3 version out so we can play too!
#darkculex, Posted: Dec 31 2010 at 10:40 AM, Rating: Sub-Default, (Expand Post) BS is BS and this game already died , not gonna log in until i see a real comunnity .
SE will revivie FFXIV just like FFXI
# Dec 31 2010 at 5:29 AM Rating: Decent
so far am loving all the new content and am sure they will do as much as they did in FFXI. and between am still play FFXI.


well said
# Dec 30 2010 at 10:43 PM Rating: Default
this is great news.. hes being modest about what the company is doing.. and honestly, being away from the game for 10 days.. for personal reasons, playing other games.. nothing quite grasped me like XIV did.. even XI.. which i wouldnt be able to go back to just cuz of how rigid and solid the game has been built up since 8 years ago.. its time for a fresh start

and XIV is a very big breath of fresh air, and im loving every second of it

#wrongfeifong, Posted: Dec 30 2010 at 9:12 PM, Rating: Sub-Default, (Expand Post) Seriously, there is no 100% satisfactory from every group that play this.
the lack of unique and group game play.
# Jan 01 2011 at 9:05 AM Rating: Good
246 posts
wrongfeifong wrote:

7. Last but not least. LINK UP FFXI. wouldn't it be more fun when knowing you can do something in FFXI affecting FFXIV. Equality ? fairness to those who don't have FFXI? Well tell them to buy FFXI and start playing it too. It is not 2 game,when it is consider one giant game!

No, it wouldn't be more fun, not for me anyway. I like the fact that there is no connection between Vana'diel and Eorzea. Yeah, the playable characters are similar, but that is it. I hope that they don't change it so that these games are connected. Not trying to be rude, just don't see how it is a good idea to do something like that.

I personally would like some pvp, something that is easier to access than I remember FFXI's pvp being. I don't see them doing pvp to the point that you're having to constantly worry about getting shanked. I really don't want to see two gladiators jumping, spinning around, and dancing in the air like I have seen people do in WoW. Just want nice balanced pvp, not too strict, but not the silly stuff I see on WoW either.

I would really love to see npc's out and about in Eorzea, and I'm not talking about at the Aetheryte camps or at the settlements. I want them traveling to different areas. I want to see traveling traders and see cottages in the middle of nowhere. I want to see npc's walking around in the cities and interacting with other npc's. I'm basically saying that Eorzea needs to have life. I know this game is new, but I do expect this game to feel like it is alive and that I'm not just playing a game.

I want Eorzea to feel like it is real, a place for my character to grow and evolve. This is one of the most important parts of the game for me. It is harder for me to immerse myself into the game when this element isn't really present. It is in FFXI and that is why the memories of playing it stick out more than other mmos that I have played. I don't care if it is talking to random npc's to do quests that are rather silly. That adds life to the game imo. It feels so inorganic just doing leves all the time. Don't get me wrong, I actually enjoy doing leves, even though it seems like I have to run for ages to fight a few monsters and then run for miles to fight the one that ran away.

Just doesn't feel realistic not having random npc's that you can help out. Yeah, it is filler and pointless to some, but it isn't for me. Now I'm not saying that these random npc quests should be a thing that other players have to do to progress, just make it for the people that enjoy that type of thing. You can make the levequest system more robust for the people that just enjoy doing that as their form of questing and leveling, besides the main scenario quests.

They need to think about the monster placement as well. Like the atlings that are right there at the main traveling route in Thanalan. That doesn't make much sense to me at all. You have antlings that are very tough, and then you have the little marmots that you can sneeze on and kill. The difficulty of monsters in some areas doesn't make sense. I get, from a realism standpoint that you will have lower creatures living in the same area other tougher creatures inhabit. That makes sense, but having antlings on the main travel route seems a bit much. Especially in that part in Thanalan, doesn't make sense to me. Now crazy creatures in the main traveling path in Mor Dhona makes total sense. I don't expect to have an easy time there, no matter what route I'm taking. Just those beginner areas should be a bit more lax.

I love to explore, it is on of the things that draws me to mmos. SE should make it more enjoyable for the people that love to explore. Give us some incentives or something. Like, if we don't buy a map of a new area, we can explore it and end up making our own map as we go. We could gain experience from it or some type of explorer points. I mean crafters are treated as jobs, as they should be. I would really like to see explorers getting something as well.

We do need housing, yes we NEED housing, at least people that have had it in the past do lol. I played FFXI and I absolutely loved having a moghouse. I liked knowing that my character didn't always have to sleep out in the wilderness or in the streets in one of the cities. Let's face it, the inns are never vacant nowadays, so there is nowhere else to sleep. I really liked that I could make my own furniture and decorate it just the way I wanted it. I know where are going to get a company hall, guild hall, company house, or whatever it is called. But if it is not an individual room for each player, then it isn't the same.

All in all, I just need to really to be able to immerse myself into this game. Have and environment my character can thrive and grow in. In many aspects this game goes far above what FFXI did for me. But, like I said, there are a few areas that are lacking imo. I want to be able to be excitedly thinking "Hmmm...wonder what Lahru is up to right now? Let me go check". I'm not getting that as often as I would like at this moment. I'm going to be patient with SE, because I feel that they are really working towards a goal. A goal where I can see myself really enjoying this game.
the lack of unique and group game play.
# Dec 31 2010 at 12:57 AM Rating: Good
34 posts
1. PVP - realm vs realm is a must. It keep playing competitive which motivate them to keep farming the good stuff.

I hate pvp... with a passion... in an open world aspect, I hate having to fear getting ganked by a wandering band of a holes while I am trying to do stuff. I am playing for enjoyment, not to be forced to ragequit after 5 minutes and never come back.
The key to ff success
# Dec 30 2010 at 7:30 PM Rating: Good
34 posts
Side quests... lots of side quests. Something to keep you entertained while working on the main story line. The leve's are nice, but they really serve no story purpose. They don't give you a feel of accomplishing anything other than getting some experience. I only did a few side quests in xi, but they made me feel like I actually did something. That was always a key in the console ff games, you wanted to go around to each town, and each section of the map and do every quest that you could find. "Up to xii". The problem with a lot of games lately is the tendancy to be linear. Everybody wants their hands held, and told where to go, what to do, and what to use. Experimentation is no longer neccessary. There is a glaring lack of individuality in today's gamers, everybody wants to be like everyone else.. as long as everyone else is ubber powerful, and has the best of the best. I personally would rather do things my way, the way that works for me, than the way everybody else thinks it should be done. If you are going to allow mods, then they should be restricted to ui mods... things like gear score and recount ruined WoW.
The key to ff success
# Dec 31 2010 at 3:20 PM Rating: Good
427 posts
Kithorain - Finally someone has expressed exactly how I feel about this game. I never played XI to get all of the same crazy crud that everyone else was wearing and I never played to be the #1 RDM on the server. I played because I could explore the game in my own good time and with people I enjoyed playing with. I could build my character the way I wanted and at my own pace.

This is what I want from XIV and so far I like what I see. I would honestly like to see them work on the social aspects of the game as well. For me, that was the best part of XI and it is what kept me coming back and buying expansions.
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