Interview: The past, present and future of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
With just a day left to go before Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn‘s 27th August launch on PS3, PlayStation Blog sat down with Naoki Yoshida, the game’s producer and director to talk over the game’s long gestation and epic ambitions.
Which element of the game is most going to surprise PlayStation players?
Naoki Yoshida: I think one of the big things will be the amazing graphics which really push the limits of the PS3′s technical capabilities, as well as the fact that it is an MMORPG experience. Also, MMORPGs are most usually controlled using a keyboard and mouse, but our Cross Hot Bar system we’ve developed specifically for gamepad allows for a smooth and exciting MMORPG experience so it is another area which will be of great interest to PS3 players.
What improvements have you made since the original PC release of Final Fantasy XIV?
Naoki Yoshida: I think that it can be split roughly into three areas. To regain the trust of the players, to fundamentally rebuild the game experience from the ground up and most importantly to achieve getting the PlayStation 3 version done while maintaining the high levels of graphical quality and gameplay experience.
To put it simply, every single aspect of the game has been redeveloped, improved and upgraded since the original Final Fantasy XIV launched, so I am fine with it if people want to think of A Realm Reborn as a completely new title in its own right!
You announced at the Japan Expo in Paris that Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII will appear in the game. Why Lightning?
Naoki Yoshida: With Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn we have actively taken efforts to cleverly incorporate elements from across the whole series to date within the setting of Eorzea that forms the game world. I think there will also be many more elements included as the game develops in order to make players from all across the world feel like they are a part of the Final Fantasy experience. There is a solid back story for why Lightning is visiting Eorzea and it will certainly form a chapter in the Lightning Saga that I hope everyone can enjoy!
How regularly do you plan to update the game, and what sort of content can we expect?
Naoki Yoshida: We are planning on doing a major update every three months once the game has been released and continuously adding large scale content. Ongoing support for the game will be included in the monthly subscription.
We have already begun work on the first update that is currently called patch 2.1 and will introduce a large scale housing system as well as “The Wolves’ Den”, the first ever PvP content in the series and also new dungeons, a new daily quest system, new Primal battles, extensions to the main story, new quests and loads of other new content to enjoy.
There will be a significant update every three months so everyone will be able to continue enjoying the game for a very long time! Of course we also have long term plans to release full expansion packs so watch out for future updates on those too.
Some players like to customise their HUD/UI menu (i.e. Aggro meter/DPS meter etc.) How is this handled?
Naoki Yoshida: We are trying to attract a large number of new players who are trying out the MMORPG genre for the first time and an overwhelming amount of customisable features like aggro meters and DPS meters can put pressure on these kinds of players. We will of course have these included within the game but will not be making them generally available for a while. By the time everyone has become accustomed to the game and the interface customisation options available at launch, we will introduce more customisable options with updates on official patches and as Add On tools to open up options for a more dedicated MMORPG interface.
Will it be possible in the final version of the game to switch a player character from one server to another?
Naoki Yoshida: Yes, we will be providing an optional world transfer service and the details of this will be announced shortly before the game’s official release!
Voice chat wasn’t enabled in the recent beta. Will it be integrated in the full version of the game?
Naoki Yoshida: We do not plan on offering official support for voice chat. To explain that decision, the idea of talking directly to other players with your own voice and making it a requirement to do so will not necessarily be a good thing for beginners and new players and many will see it as imposing pressure or causing them unnecessary stress.
I am personally a veteran online gamer so I completely understand the importance of voice chat but if we were to make it an officially supported feature then there is a chance that some players would start to demand that others use it just because it is an “official feature”.
Of course, we will not be prohibiting external voice chat via Skype etc, so individual player communities can still sort out their own preferred means of communication!
The game currently supports four languages: English, French, German and Japanese. Are there any plans to include more European languages?
Naoki Yoshida: There is indeed scope to expand the number of supported languages if player numbers and customer demand reaches a sufficient level. We await word from various communities as to what people want to see.
What are your thoughts on the PS4 system as a developer?
Naoki Yoshida: I have an extremely great appreciation of the PS4′s hardware architecture and memory capacity. Production of the PS4 version of A Realm Reborn is well under way and going according to plan. I hope to be able to unveil this awesome PS4 version as soon as possible!
What will the PS4 system allow you to bring to the development and production of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn that hasn’t been possible so far?
Naoki Yoshida: The PS3 version supports an interface specifically designed for game pads but the PS4 offers a huge variety of different interface options and also has the capacity to render an unbelievable number of player characters simultaneously. Both of these are really great features for the future development of the game!
Was it your requirement that PS3, PS4 and PC gamers play on the same servers?
Naoki Yoshida: Yes, of course. I think it would be very sad indeed if say a player with the PS3 version invited a friend to play with them but they could not do so because that friend happened to have the PS4 version. So I really do believe that whatever hardware is being used, all players should be able to play together across platforms.
I think that splitting the community down into different segments is something that we should avoid, even if it may look like it makes for a temporary business success. I am incredibly grateful to Sony for making this kind of cross-platform play possible.
Will the PS4 version of the game contain exclusive content compared to the PS3 version?
Naoki Yoshida: That is not my intention. As I said already, if different platforms give their players a different game experience then it will inevitably lead to the splintering and division of the community and that is really not a good idea for an MMORPG. So I want for all players to have a stable and fun experience regardless of which platform they choose to play the game on, without worrying about which version is best.