Famitsu: FanFest Dev Interview (Part 1)

Authors

Famitsu
Famitsu Japanese Video Games Media
Iluna Minori
Iluna Minori Translator | SEA | Chocobo
Nemekh Kinryuu
Nemekh Kinryuu Site Founder | EU | Cerberus
Message From AkhMorning vivek

As part of our vision for future content on AkhMorning we are looking to expand our horizons with coverage of various overseas media to bridge together the information between regions and to help enhance the global understanding and appreciation of FFXIV.

This article is our eigth translation article of overseas interviews. It is unofficial and all rights to the source images, assets and written content belong to Famitsu and SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. respectively.

For ease of legibility with the article’s length, the source media has been omitted but can be found in the official article link below.

If you have any feedback, please contact us at feedback@akhmorning.com.

It is with great pleasure we bring to you our translation of:

Interview With The Developers For Endwalker Part 1

The Development Goal For Male Viera Is “Mature, Yet Vaguely Neutral”

Source Article

【FF14】『暁月のフィナーレ』開発者インタビュー第1弾 ヴィエラ男性は「オトナびていながらどことなく中性的」が開発目標

Famitsu Article Staff

Famitsu has conducted an interview with the producer and director of the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV (abbreviated as “FFXIV”), Naoki Yoshida during the Digital Fan Festival 2021, an online event held 2 days throughout the 15th and 16th of May, 2021. This interview is conducted with 6 of the developers who attended the event during day 1 while other stage events were going on. Although the content is short, it contains a lot of insights about the upcoming expansion, so it’d serve as a good reading material.

There is also another interview conducted separately on the 2nd day of the Fan Festival (May 16th, 2021) and therefore the interview is split into two parts.

There are two things to note about the interview before you proceed:

  1. While the contents are short, Famitsu has given the interview some slight treatment for easier reading.
  2. The interviews with the developers were not conducted in order.

That said, let’s begin.

The Structure Of Old Sharlayan’s Design Is Based On Past Settings

The first two speakers for this interview would be both Banri Oda and Yoshiki Takanashi.

We started off with the interview on both of them right after their attendance on the segment “How do you like Hydaelyn?”, which allowed us to delve deeper into the world setting of FFXIV.

織田万里氏 Banri Oda

Lead Story Designer. One of the leading figures involved in creating the world and story of FFXIV.

Lead Story Designer: Banri Oda
Lead Story Designer: Banri Oda
Famitsu
Famitsu

May I know your thoughts now that the stage events are over, and are there any messages you’d like to deliver to the players?

Banri Oda
Banri Oda

I was really nervous. Since I attended the “How do you like Hydaelyn” segment sounding very exhausted so I apologise for acting that way. Even so, I personally enjoyed the segment too.

Although I couldn’t interact with my fans directly, I’m very happy that we still have the chance to host a Digital Fanfest in the coming 2 days.

Famitsu
Famitsu

As mentioned in the opening ceremony, you’re currently holding the position of the lead story designer this time.

What does this mean to the changes surrounding you, and we would like to hear from you about your current role.

Banri Oda
Banri Oda

In fact, it hasn’t changed at all. (laughs)

There was a conversation on what to do about my role a few years ago, and the whole thing has dragged on and on, until today… something like that. There wasn’t any special occasion nor timing that triggered such changes to begin with.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So you continue to be in charge of the story as well as the lore setting in general.

Banri Oda
Banri Oda

That’s correct.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I’d think It’s difficult for us mere mortals to imagine how hard it is being a lore designer and to create a story, but what inspires you?

Also, It may be difficult for you to answer this question, but what were your influences and which aspect did you pay extra attention to when creating the world of “Endwalker”?

Banri Oda
Banri Oda

My previous job was actually as an editor, so it’s not that I’ve done anything particularly special in order to land a job in storytelling. I’ve always loved reading, so I spent a lot of time reading books as well as playing games, and have touched on many stories since I was a kid. I feel that I have been given feedback from those experiences and thanks to that I’ve been using the most of it today.

Regarding the story and lore, it is currently difficult to tell you at this stage such as having to refer to this and that which you’ve read in the past, so please bear with me on that. However, looking at the project that I have been working on for almost 10 years, it seems as if I’m reaching a milestone in terms of the storyline this time. Because of this, I feel the responsibility in delivering a solid product.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Previously on the stage program, you talked about the setting of Sharlayan in detail.

I assume the lore is already created prior to the release of Heavensward, so I want to know if you and your team have already started by including elements that were already established during that time in preparation for this expansion?

Banri Oda
Banri Oda

As mentioned by Yoshida (Naoki Yoshida, Producer and Director of FFXIV), the legacy version of FFXIV initially wanted the players to start their adventure by selecting one of the 6 cities (Limsa Lominsa, Ul’dah, Gridania, Ishgard, Ala Mhigo, Old Sharlayan). This meant that the setting of “accumulating what you’ve learned in the city of knowledge” already existed way before I joined the development team. However, we hadn’t had the chance to convey more on this aspect to our players.

So, even though it was in a state of ruin, I thought it would be neat for players to at least feel the characteristics of the message in it, hence I had the city make its appearance and have it located at the Dravanian Hinterlands during Heavensward, and that at least brought a portion of its settings to light. Now that Old Sharlayan city is going to be accessible, I’m looking forward to seeing players learning more about it through the settings I’ve been thinking about and working on.

高梨佳樹氏 Yoshiki Takanashi

Lead Background Artist of FFXIV. The person who is behind the background (abbreviated as BG) of Eorzea, working to realise the visuals of the world and the atmosphere for this expansion. Also responsible for the background designs of the towns and raid dungeons for the previous expansions.

Lead Background Artist: Yoshiki Takanashi
Lead Background Artist: Yoshiki Takanashi
Famitsu
Famitsu

Let’s have Takanashi-san deliver a message to our players.

Yoshiki Takanashi
Yoshiki Takanashi

There was certainly a point where I wondered if we should host FanFest under the current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, considering I had the experience of being in direct contact with the players themselves during the previous FanFest, being able to experience the passion of all FFXIV players is something huge to me, so even if the format changes, the thought of wanting to host the event digitally is something I really thought it should happen. So personally I’m really happy about it.

Famitsu
Famitsu

In today’s keynote speech, we were shown various new areas introduced as a walkthrough for Endwalker. Looking at it, it feels as if the characteristics of each area looks completely different than before.

I think this is one of the highlights of the expansion, so would you please tell us about the difficulties and struggles you’ve faced during development and what aspect you found fresh.

Yoshiki Takanashi
Yoshiki Takanashi

As you mentioned here, each of the locations (fields) shown this time are full of unique elements here. So on that part, I’d like to make it so that players can enjoy them more deeply.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I had the impression that many of the colours are unique.

Yoshiki Takanashi
Yoshiki Takanashi

This was the case with Shadowbringers as well but I managed to have each of their characteristics stand out even more this time. Bringing out the individuality of each out proved to be quite a difficult task here, but I’m having fun creating them.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Old Sharlayan is a city that has its idea formulated since the legacy version of FFXIV, but is the city structure and its design created with arrangements done to the existing setting? Or did you start from scratch during the development of Endwalker?

Yoshiki Takanashi
Yoshiki Takanashi

As mentioned by Oda just now, the setting already existed, so I’ve worked alongside Oda and Ishikawa (refers to Natsuko Ishikawa, the lead story designer) together to examine further and create a new layout for the city.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Considering there’s no nature whatsoever on the setting of the moon, I have that impression that it’s difficult to express yourself, so what do you think about it?

Yoshiki Takanashi
Yoshiki Takanashi

That’s correct. That’s exactly what I’m struggling with right now. (laughs bitterly)

Famitsu
Famitsu

Are you still in the process of making adjustments?

Yoshiki Takanashi
Yoshiki Takanashi

Yes, the ones you witnessed today are still currently in the development stage. From now on it’s all about working diligently with our development staff members to brush up on the details.

I really am struggling right now with Mare Lamentorium, like how I have to refer to the videos about the universe along with the assigned staff members working on it… (laughs)

Considering there weren’t any cutscene appearances of space as the background in FFXIV, that part is especially impressive to me.

Focusing on the Frontage Width in the Design for Reaper’s Two-Handed Scythe

The next 2 developers who accepted our interview will be Shinya Ichida and Takanobu Miyazawa. As the two staff members that act as a support to the framework of visual design, We’ve managed to have them tell us about the highlights of the new job, Reaper, that was announced today.

市田真也氏 Shinya Ichida

Lead Artist of FFXIV. Involved in a wide variety of visual aspects of the game, such as the selection of Red Mage weapons, as well as the direction of Samurai’s Limit Break when activated, and much more.

Lead Artist: Shinya Ichida
Lead Artist: Shinya Ichida
Famitsu
Famitsu

What is your enthusiasm for the release of Endwalker, as well as your message to all FFXIV players?

Shinya Ichida
Shinya Ichida

In Endwalker we’ll see the conclusion to the Hydaelyn Zodiark arc. With my time in the development of FFXIV reaching almost 10 years here, it’s like I myself have been walking alongside this epic story. I personally feel very attached to it as we’re welcoming the end of an era.

With how Ishikawa-san went all her way to create such a wonderful story, I would like to express the same properly in VFX as well. As I’ve always mentioned, I want to make sure all players can enjoy the game with sceneries and experiences never felt before.

Famitsu
Famitsu

We saw a variety of visuals shown on the keynote earlier.

I know as a lead artist you are involved in a wide range of tasks here but is there any particular point that you would like us to focus on?

Shinya Ichida
Shinya Ichida

Basically, I’m putting all of my energy into everything here, and from my point of view, I have the desire of wanting all players to see everything. For the upcoming new race, we have been preparing little by little in order to deliver our big surprise, but with the involvement of both the art and character team, it ended up as a huge cost in our production.

By preparing ourselves starting from the creation of our development team structure at the beginning, we’ve finally managed to make the announcement on time. So first, we hope all players will be able to get a feel and have fun with the new races.

Famitsu
Famitsu

And that new race would be the male Viera.

Shinya Ichida
Shinya Ichida

Yes, that’s correct.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I’d like to take the chance and ask, where did you focus efforts in creating the male Viera?

Shinya Ichida
Shinya Ichida

While creating a male character form that has never seen before, we went through a trial and error process in order to create a mature yet somewhat neutral atmosphere……

We had several discussions with the staff members about the character details all the way, ranging from the modeling of their faces to the way they stand while in motion.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Previously Ichida-san, you were involved in the selection of weapons for Red Mage, so I’d assume you would be involved in the selection of weapons for Sage’s Nouliths as well?

Shinya Ichida
Shinya Ichida

That would be correct.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I would like to know the decision flow behind the weapons of new jobs.

For example, why is the Sage weapon named Nouliths, and how did it come about?

Shinya Ichida
Shinya Ichida

First, on the topic of two-handed scythes wielded by Reaper, the concept is to provide the design team a wide range of options as possible so that the art team can flexibly come up with various designs in the future.

For example, in terms of character actions, we made sure that there would be no problems for the character to swing such a lengthy weapon. Reapers can also possess Avatars that can be summoned from the Void. When the Avatar fuses with the reaper, the design switches into a new one, and so we’ve invested our effort into creating the mechanics of the job.

宮澤隆信氏 Takanobu Miyazawa

Lead Animator of FFXIV. Mainly in charge of animation related to battle content as well as monsters. One of the members who knows what goes on behind the scenes of raid development.

Lead Animator: Takanobu Miyazawa
Lead Animator: Takanobu Miyazawa
Famitsu
Famitsu

Next we would like to have Miyazawa-san to give his thoughts for today’s stage program as well.

Takanobu Miyazawa
Takanobu Miyazawa

I was very nervous when I got up on stage, but I am glad to have conveyed the atmosphere of the development scene to everyone who attended, even if only a little.

Famitsu
Famitsu

After watching the development panel held earlier, I was impressed at the hard work that went into it… especially the part where you described Omega M and F liquefying and how it was animated felt really ingenious there, but could you tell us about some of the most difficult things you’ve worked on thus far?

Takanobu Miyazawa
Takanobu Miyazawa

The Omega segment that I’ve shared today was indeed one of the most difficult projects I’ve ever been involved in.

We would usually work on new expressions whenever we’re creating new raid content each time, so this is something we’ve always poured our best efforts into.

Famitsu
Famitsu

―― What are the main points of interest in Endwalker, and what are the new areas that you have focused on?

Takanobu Miyazawa
Takanobu Miyazawa

The new Reaper job that was announced today will allow you to enjoy new ways to play and a feeling unseen in “FFXIV” before, so I want players to look forward to that first.

Inquiring on Diamond Weapon EX as well as the “Red Comet”

Lastly we have Masaki Nakagawa and Daisuke Nakagawa as our guests for the final section of the interview. With the chance of being able to hear from both who have been long term developers of the game, the questions were mainly battle-related.

中川誠貴氏 Masaki Nakagawa

Lead Battle Content Designer. Known by the community from all around the world as “Mr. Ozma”

Battle Content Lead: Masaki Nakagawa
Battle Content Lead: Masaki Nakagawa
Famitsu
Famitsu

Let’s begin by hearing your enthusiasm for the release of Endwalker, as well as your message to all FFXIV players.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

As mentioned by Ichida earlier, this will be the expansion that welcomes the end of the Hydaelyn Zodiark arc.

Aside from the previously announced Pandæmonium, the new raid dungeon, we have trials, main story quest battles… all those various new content that I’ll be working on, so I’d like everyone to wait just a little bit more, and to look forward to it.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Knowing that Nakagawa-san will be overseeing the overall battle aspects of the game, with the content that will be implemented in Endwalker, what are the ones that you are mainly involved in?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Since I’m the leader of the battle content team here, I don’t think there is anything that will make me go “This one!”.

In other words, it would be everything. That’s the answer. (laughs)

Famitsu
Famitsu

You’ll be involved in not only Pandæmonium, but also the earlier announced Myths of the Realm, and I take that it’d be too early to ask you anything regarding the content, from the looks of it?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

I’m involved in everything regarding the raid tier. That’s right, I don’t think I’ll be able to answer you just yet… (laughs)

Famitsu
Famitsu

With the release of Patch 5.5 part 2, this marks the release of all for “Shadowbringers”.

Looking back, what are the most memorable parts of the game?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

I have lots of memories made throughout working on the 5.x series battles.

When it comes to recent content it’ll be Eden’s Promise. In Eden’s Promise, which follows Eden’s Gate and Eden’s Verse, we changed the battle structure on the 4th floor, adjusting the hitboxes to make it bigger, and various other refinements we’ve made resulted in a high quality raid tier. I thought, “Wow, I finally completed it”, and thus Eden’s Promise became the content that really left an impression on me.

Also, regarding quest battles, I’ve managed to try various new things so much that it’s incomparable to what I did back during the 4.x series, so when it comes to memories that make me go “This was easy”, or “This was well done”, I definitely have several in mind.

中川大輔氏 Nakagawa Daisuke

Battle Content Designer. Entered Square-Enix in January, 2015. Involved in the creation of various battle content such as Diamond Weapon trial (The Cloud Deck), Eden’s Gate 4th floor and much more.

Battle Content Designer: Daisuke Nakagawa
Battle Content Designer: Daisuke Nakagawa
Famitsu
Famitsu

Next we would like to move on to Daisuke Nakagawa-san.

First of all, how do you feel now that you’ve appeared on the developer panel?

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

This time, I’ve managed to share my experience on “how it’s possible to create content like this with one’s own imagination”.

Since the aspect of fully realising ideas based on imagination that takes place in the mind is what the FFXIV team really is all about, I hope that I’ve managed to convey to everyone about the positivity of having such traits.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Watching the developer panel held earlier, I believe there were many player comments about the “Red Comet”, an apex Red Chocobo seen in The Bozjan Southern Front.

So I would like to know the reason behind the high difficulty of the Critical Engagement…and so fourth. So I want to know if you have any behind-the-scene stories to share on this.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

I thought it would make sense if I made them this strong. (laughs)

The red Chocobo is seen as some sort of an optional boss in Final Fantasy Tactics, if I make them be defeated easily it would create discussions about how “Is this really THE Red Chocobo?”. So, we adjusted the balance with prior approval to make it its current state.

Famitsu
Famitsu

In today’s panel, I’m convinced that Nakagawa-san places the importance on story very seriously and it shows. It’s no wonder you paid attention to the Chocobos considering its history.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

That’s right

Famitsu
Famitsu

From the development panel shown today, I noticed that The Cloud Deck is listed as one of the content you worked on.

When I played the actual trial, I realised that the boss movements are something you don’t really see in previous trials and I thought it was really interesting content to play, so I want to know what points you took special notes on when developing this content.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

When it comes to the capture of Diamond Weapon, the keywords will be to shake off the mechanics. It’s content I’ve been wanting to do and I’m glad that I followed through. (laughs)

The recent EX trials have been extremely cost intensive so such an environment allowed me to try all sorts of new things never attempted before. The thought of “considering how content would require such an amount of cost, let’s utilise that and create a brand new experience!” was what made creating The Cloud Deck possible.

Famitsu
Famitsu

With the abundance of costs present, did you then think up of the dynamic flow of having both G-Warrior Units 1 and 2 move around the skies while fighting?

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

That’s right.

It was rather quick of me to come up with the idea of that form. It didn’t take me long to complete the model.

Famitsu
Famitsu

The development panel held earlier was something we’ve paid great interest to and it was very interesting.

To what extent do you solidify your personal ideas and then work together with the others to give them shape…… is something I’d like to know, so can you tell us how you go about this?

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

Since I’m entrusted to do a lot of the work here, I tend to solidify those ideas within me during the early stages on a certain level. Then I would ask Nakagawa (Masaki), who is the leader of the project if I want someone’s opinion on the matter, “I have this idea in mind, so what do you think?” and so on.

However, there are many tasks which require me to work with our junior staff members rather than working alone, so it is not always the case that the other designers follow the same working process.

Closing Words From AkhMorning

Part 2 will be released soon. In the meantime, check out Yoshida’s FanFest 2021 Interview with Famitsu.

Please look forward to it!

Let us know what you think about this segment in the comments below.