Famitsu: FanFest Dev Interview (2/2)

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

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 ninth 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 2

Stories On The Knight Who Appears In Grand Cosmos

Source Article

【【FF14】『暁月のフィナーレ』開発者インタビュー第2弾 魔法宮殿 グラン・コスモスに登場する騎士ついてのエピソードも

Famitsu Article Staff

Part 1

Famitsu has conducted an interview with a group of developers for Final Fantasy XIV (abbreviated FFXIV) during the Digital FanFestival 2021, an online event held 2 days throughout the 15th and 16th of May, 2021. This interview is conducted with 7 of the developers who attended the event during day 2 with stage events running co-currently.

There is also another interview conducted separately on the 2nd day of the FanFestival (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.

Describing The Charm Of The New Instrument, “Electric Guitar”, By Hayashi

Responding to our interview for that day was Yosuke Hayashi, Arata Takahashi, and Masato Shida. Each of the staff members have their message dedicated especially to the players, so it’s time to begin our interview with the 3 of them.

高橋新氏 Arata Takahashi

Lead Level Designer, worked on various areas. Belongs to the so-called “Level Design Team”.

Lead Level Designer: Arata Takahashi
Lead Level Designer: Arata Takahashi
Famitsu
Famitsu

As we’re looking at more new information revealed today for Endwalker, we would like you to deliver a message to the players.

Arata Takahashi
Arata Takahashi

Hi I’m Takashi, the Lead Level Designer for FFXIV. Pleased to be here.

The development for “Endwalker” is currently underway right now, and currently the designers are working intensely here, on top of that I just begin to get serious into working on my task, and I’m starting to face the challenges that are presented to me right now.

I want every player out there to look forward to it.

Famitsu
Famitsu

From the Producer Letter LIVE that was held just now, there was a note stating the roadmap on having Gold Saucer or other seasonal related events.

I’d like to know what kind of things we can look forward to when it comes to level design, even a little hint would be appreciated.

Arata Takahashi
Arata Takahashi

Actually, since we always begin our planning aspects with a tight schedule, so we don’t always make big plans for the events beforehand… so it feels like we need to start working on the events you just mentioned earlier. (laughs bitterly)

I apologise for not being able to provide you with a detailed answer. As for events, the Moonfire Faire will begin soon, so I would like you to look forward to the event.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So we can, in many ways, expect to see future developments of Manderville Gold Saucer in game, I take it?

Arata Takahashi
Arata Takahashi

The aspect of that area is different from the others, so we are the room to tackle the content here so I do think we want to add more gameplay elements for that area in the future.

Personally I do find Gold Saucer to be a place where it’s worth taking the challenge on, but currently we’re full of hands working on Endwalker right now so… (laughs)

I do want to think of new and interesting mini games once more after we’re done with the next expansion.

志田雅人氏 Masato Shida

  Background Artist. Mainly worked on environment and area design including The Black Shroud and Ishgard, along with other regions.

Background Artist: Masato Shida
Background Artist: Masato Shida
Famitsu
Famitsu

Let’s hear your message for the players.

Masato Shida
Masato Shida

Hi here, I’m Shida working as the Background Artist for the game.

As announced by Yoshida (Naoki Yoshida, the producer and director of the game), it seems like we’re going to the moon with this expansion. There are also underground cities, amazon forests, and some mysterious floating island which we showed the artwork of earlier… so I do think there are various maps that display strong characteristics.

When I first saw the plan, I thought and felt “Wow, looks like there’s going to be a lot of maps that look really intense”.

In Shadowbringers, the atmosphere was mainly eccentric due to the nature of its weather, but this time the maps itself are all overall eccentric. So in order to bring out that flavour, we’re definitely looking to create a powerful picture out of this.

As we keep selling more and more expansions, we do our best to create and deliver maps that feel refreshing so the difficulty of development itself ends up getting higher as we go on.

Currently the background team is doing their best to create them, and we always have the best interests of players in mind to deliver new fields that are once more different than what they’ve experienced in Shadowbringers. As with the fields, there are also plenty of spectacular looking dungeons so please look forward to that.

Famitsu
Famitsu

You mentioned “the overall eccentricness of the field” here, but since Endwalker which its main theme is to illustrate the repeat of its “Final Days”, which takes place not in the First, but on the Source.

I would like to know your ideas or story on how that unique atmosphere is portrayed in the world that is linked to Eorzea.

Masato Shida
Masato Shida

We thought of changing that impression itself in a major way. Regarding the maps, we are thinking of creating them that bring the impression of “a strong picture”, so we are planning to create an environment where players can feel the atmosphere that doesn’t feel lacking than the previous maps we’ve created.

When the Warriors of Light step in the new maps, they’d feel “Wow, this is different from the others”, and that’s what we’re aiming to create here.

林洋介氏 Yosuke Hayashi

Lead Item Designer. Primarily works on item production. He also works on the management of collaborations or any new ideas.

Lead Item Designer: Yosuke Hayashi
Lead Item Designer: Yosuke Hayashi
Famitsu
Famitsu

Let’s hear your message for the Warriors of Light.

Yosuke Hayashi
Yosuke Hayashi

Hello, I’m Hayashi, the item designer of this game. Pleased to meet all of you.

Although it’s not easy to talk about “Endwalker” without spoiling anything, various items get added and changed each time whenever a new expansion gets released.

This time the changes to the system began by removing belts from the game. This is an improvement made not only for the existing players who are currently enjoying the game, but also for new players who will be joining the game in the future.

I want to do my best to provide enjoyment to the players on aspects other than the scenario and battle as well.

Famitsu
Famitsu

During the Producer Letter LIVE earlier, there was an announcement of the collaboration between Fender.

May I know who was the one that was involved in the musical instrument aspects like the electric guitar?

Yosuke Hayashi
Yosuke Hayashi

It was me actually. (laughs)

Although it was explained in the Producer Letter LIVE earlier, this one electric guitar can output various sounds and works differently from other instruments. In order to realise this, we’ve prepared several tones for an electric guitar in advance, and made the tone switchable in between when performing. Unlike in the past where we ensured the piano tone fits the sound played from a piano, or violin tone that fits the sound played from a violin.

Previously in order to switch from one instrument into another, like say, from flute to piano, you had to stop performing in flute and then switch into piano… but in order to avoid providing too much information here, with guitar you’re able to switch from guitar 1 to guitar 2, or guitar 2 to guitar 3, or even guitar 3 to guitar 1 seamlessly without having to stop in between. This is where we paid particular attention to here.

Famitsu
Famitsu

It’s like imagining ourselves being able to control the effects pedal with our feet and switch the tone.

Yosuke Hayashi
Yosuke Hayashi

That’s right.

In the game, you don’t use your feet to control it, but we’ve managed to create a similar situation where you can switch around freely.

While the insufficient amount of buttons available on a gamepad makes it a little hard here, we still managed to make it work somehow with the help of Odagiri, who appeared on the stage today.

The Soldiers Seen In The Grand Cosmos Are Actually An Homage To A Certain Knight Order!

The next who responded to our reach out would be both Natsuko Ishikawa and Saki Takayanagi. Let’s hear from Ishikawa-san reflecting on the “Flashback with the Cast” held earlier as well as her response to the show, where 3 of the voice actors - Hiroki Takahashi (voice of Emet-Selch), Yuma Uchida (voice of G’raha Tia), and KENN (voice of Urianger) appeared as the corner’s guests.

石川夏子氏 Natsuko Ishikawa, 高柳早紀氏 Saki Takayanagi

Lead Story Designer: Natsuko Ishikawa (Left) & Quest Designer: Saki Takayanagi (Right)
Lead Story Designer: Natsuko Ishikawa (Left) & Quest Designer: Saki Takayanagi (Right)

石川夏子氏 Natsuko Ishikawa

Lead Story Designer. Worked on the main scenario for Shadowbringers.

高柳早紀氏 Saki Takayanagi

Quest Designer. Worked mainly on human NPC and its coordination, as well as quest implementation.

Famitsu
Famitsu

May I know your thoughts after having appeared in stage events during the final day of Digital FanFest 2021.

Natsuko Ishikawa
Natsuko Ishikawa

I had the honour of having a stage appearance during the Producer Letter LIVE.

Although the format for this FanFestival is a special one as it was held digitally, it feels as if we have witnessed before how this new format allows us to utilise this pattern to hype up other events using the same method as well. So in this sense, I believe this is a very fruitful FanFestival.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Let’s hear Takayanagi-san’s thoughts on the event today as well, as you appeared in the stage event “Glamoured to Life Showcase”

Saki Takayanagi
Saki Takayanagi

Usually the FanFestival would be an event where players attend and cosplay events would be held where I could see them in front of my eyes, but we have to do it with photos this time. However, I do think every player who joined was able to put their ingenuity to work and create what they thought was the best glamour possible.

Although we witnessed the cosplayers with a feeling of gratitude here, for this particular FanFestival it feels like everyone has created their very own FanFestival.

I also thought a glamour-themed cosplay competition at a digitally held FanFestival added a unique flavour to the event as well. Since this event is created specifically because it’s a digital event, we are able to witness various forms of Warriors of Light, and doing so makes me feel glad that the event was implemented this way.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Let’s hear from Ishikawa-san about her thoughts about the scenario, if there’s any, since we’re heading to the conclusion of the Hydaelyn-Zodiark arc in the main scenario for Endwalker.

Natsuko Ishikawa
Natsuko Ishikawa

It’s really dense in volume so I’m having doubts on whether I can finish them and meet the schedule deadline, so I’m working hard here to make sure it’s delivered on time. (laughs)

We can actually make it work if we wanted to actually prolong the story of Hydaelyn-Zodiark arc, and there’s definitely a lot more places to explore in Eorzea, the world players first started their journey.

I personally am fine with ending the story at around patch 7.0 or 8.0, but I believe the decision to end the story precisely at this timing must have brought out the sense of speed as well, and I hope that, with this decision, it will allow us to able to properly grasp on what what kind of story “FFXIV” we can provide to our players, considering the fact that this expansion will be released in 2021.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I believe Takayanagi-san is assigned to adjust the identity of character, but I’d like to know if you have any peculiar stories behind your job?

Natsuko Ishikawa
Natsuko Ishikawa

Generally the adjustments on the main characters are mainly under Takayanagi’s lead and during Shadowbringers, she had a hand in the minor adjustments for that department.

Saki Takayanagi
Saki Takayanagi

The one that was adjusted in Shadowbringers that I worked on would be Thancred.

I suggested to Ishikawa that “Perhaps we should change this part to make it better?”, and with that we settled on the form we see today, and that’s what I remember the most. So when it comes to main NPCs, that was one of the examples.

As for the others, I recall receiving an order on having Elezen knights to appear halfway through Grand Cosmos, the dungeon that was released in patch 5.1. When I got the order, I discussed with Oda (Banri Oda, the Lead Story Designer), and worked on coordinating them to look like certain NPCs.

As for the identity of those NPCs, I don’t know if I am allowed to mention this. (laughs)

Natsuko Ishikawa
Natsuko Ishikawa

Sure, go ahead.

Saki Takayanagi
Saki Takayanagi

To those who may already realise this, the NPCs used would be the Knights of the Heavens’ Ward that appeared in Heavensward.

After asking and confirming with Oda on using characters that pay homage to these figures in terms of their faces and equipment, we then reached the decision to reintroduce them for this instance dungeon.

Famitsu
Famitsu

On Moenbryda, Takayanagi-san once mentioned “There’s a thought of wanting her to wear this costume” before.

Are there any same thoughts on other NPCs that may no longer have the chance to appear in the future like Moenbryda?

Saki Takayanagi
Saki Takayanagi

On the feelings of wanting to dress them in this various or particular costume that fits everyone, yeah of course I do have them.

Actually, on characters that sadly have to bow down from the stage halfway, I did pull something that repeatedly “bring them back secretly and let them change their clothes for a little while” using my work tools there. (laughs)

As for the others, for example the commoners from Gridannia or Ul’dah, I’ve been having a lot of fun with the nameless NPCs that I’ve placed as so-called “entertainment” by letting them wear new costumes and thinking, “they would look great in this outfit!” without the knowledge of anyone.

Also, since the staff members of the Goldsmith guild are still wearing their very first artifact gear, I always have the feeling where they would look good in their AF4 gear. When I looked at the guildmaster Serendipity I thought “Ah really, the new class specific equipment would look so good on her!”. (laughs)

So in this sense, I do want to swap their costumes and let all of them wear the new class specific equipment.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Next I would like to hear Ishikawa-san’s impression and thoughts on the “Flashback with the Cast” that was held just now.

Natsuko Ishikawa
Natsuko Ishikawa

I mean, it’s a recital…

Famitsu
Famitsu

The passionate acting by the voice actors was really a sight to behold.

Natsuko Ishikawa
Natsuko Ishikawa

The performance I received was really wonderful… Even during voice recording they were acting very passionately so I was grateful to have witnessed that.

Seeing them acting like that made me think with a renewed sense of “Wow I’m glad to have created this scene”. However, it’s also due to how I’m not too used to the situation where we have a live recital that took place during the FanFestival so my mind couldn’t keep up. (laughs).

Not only that, Yoshida would suddenly describe his attachment to in-game scenes or characters and that made me feel embarrassed… (laughs)

Like, cut me some slack! (laughs) Which is why I can be here now after overcoming that wall.

Famitsu
Famitsu

You somehow managed to overcome it. (laughs)

Natsuko Ishikawa
Natsuko Ishikawa

I was a little shaken and ran outside once during the process. (laughs)

Delivering A New Experience Through PlayStation 5’s Vibration Feature

Moving on to the interview with Shoichi Matsuzawa, the lead project manager, and Kei Odagiri, the game UI designer. We interviewed both of them, who work on playability adjustments, on their enthusiasm on Endwalker, as well as the PlayStation 5 version of the game.

小田切慧氏 Odagiri Kei, 松澤祥一氏 Shoichi Matsuzawa

Game UI Designer: Odagiri Kei (Left) & Lead Project Manager: Shoichi Matsuzawa (Right)
Game UI Designer: Odagiri Kei (Left) & Lead Project Manager: Shoichi Matsuzawa (Right)

小田切慧氏 Odagiri Kei

Working primarily in group pose or content replay as a Game UI Designer. Also work on adjustments that focus on accessibility and easier gameplayability.  

松澤祥一氏 Shoichi Matsuzawa

Working on a broad variety of tasks such as budget calculation and execution, to project management on various updates and so on as the Lead Project Manager.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Let’s hear your enthusiasm for the next expansion of the game, Endwalker, and your message to the players of FFXIV.

Odagiri Kei
Odagiri Kei

On the development progress of Endwalker, it feels as if we’re currently halfway climbing a mountain, and we’re desperately working our best here.

Since I work on the User Interface here, I’ve been doing the usual where I work on the UI aspects as what I’ve been doing up till now to ensure I can deliver an experience that answers the players’ expectations, I’ve been working on the improvements for Patch 6.0 here so I’d like players to look forward to it.

Shoichi Matsuzawa
Shoichi Matsuzawa

When it comes to my enthusiasm, as the project manager, I’ve always made my utmost effort to work closely with the development team members.

For those of you who are thinking of starting this game, I would like to tell you that the moment Endwalker is released, the excitement and atmosphere is something special that can only be experienced at the time of release so I’m sure you’ll enjoy it, and I hope you’ll take the opportunity to experience the content we’ve created.

Famitsu
Famitsu

We see specialised stickers and frames added into the Group Pose feature in conjunction with the Digital FanFestival, so I’d like to know how this implementation came to mind.

Odagiri Kei
Odagiri Kei

As we’re currently in the situation where players could not attend the event physically, everyone of us had the same thought of wanting our players to enjoy the event with something.

We’ve looked through many screenshots being taken on social media, and we received a suggestion and thought it would be a good idea to prepare universally used screenshot frames that gives out a sense of unity, so that’s how the idea came to reality. From there we managed to prepare a large amount of frames, and using them will allow the pictures to look firm and well built.

Although one of the frames suggested where it looked like a stage ended up getting a dramatic no-go sign from Yoshida… (laughs bitterly)

Ultimately it was created after 3 retakes, so in a sense it’s one work that I’m proud of. (laughs)

Famitsu
Famitsu

Seeing the actor Ryuunosuke Kamiki elected to be the official ambassador of the game, what was the reaction from the both of you when that decision was made?

Shoichi Matsuzawa
Shoichi Matsuzawa

Seeing Kamiki-san promoting the game made us feel at ease with not a single worry at all!

It is a great honor to have famous figures who actually play “FFXIV”, and become an ambassador to promote the game further, and this is something we truly appreciate and are thankful for.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Considering this is the first ever Digital FanFestival, what do you think of this event as a project manager?

Shoichi Matsuzawa
Shoichi Matsuzawa

This is actually thanks to the excellent work by the community team and the promotion team, and to tell the truth I personally did not move a finger here…(laughs)

Each time when we have this event, it is usually done by both teams. I am however the project manager for the development side so I usually offer myself to help the players in play testing as well as follow up on any tasks that need to be done.

So for this time what I’ve done for this event here would be the arrangement of schedule to get the in-game FanFest specific items implemented into the game.

Famitsu
Famitsu

It looks like we are already seeing players use the Lunar Whale mount (one of the Digital Fanfest Commemorative Items) and the Menphina Earring (one of the pre-order items for Endwalker) in game.

Shoichi Matsuzawa
Shoichi Matsuzawa

When the preorders for Endwalker began yesterday, I had to check if the Menphina earring that was delivered to the players right after preordering the game was working as intended, and it makes me breathe a sigh of relief that it worked as intended. (laughs)

It does make my heart pound whenever I have to check on those things every time.

Odagiri Kei
Odagiri Kei

The Lunar Whale is the first ever 8-man mount seen in the game, but it wasn’t easy to decide on the specifics regarding the mount actually.

It really is easier said than done trying to create something ordinary… I had to be careful when creating something that allows 8 players to ride on the mount without being overly concerned.

Shoichi Matsuzawa
Shoichi Matsuzawa

Ok, let’s have a 24-man mount next time then. (laughs)

Everyone laughs

Odagiri Kei
Odagiri Kei

Currently only party members can ride them so we’ll have to start by reviewing the rules. (laughs)

Famitsu
Famitsu

Since the two of you are involved in the launch of this title on PlayStation 5, can you give us some PR information from each of you?

Odagiri Kei
Odagiri Kei

I was in charge of the main planning for the PlayStation 5 version, who were involved in the main planning, and Matsuzawa was in charge of production and direction.

To explore this further, we both worked on the adjustments as well as figured out how to implement each feature available for Playstation 5, as well as the DualSense feature. Since we were working to implement new features into an existing game, it was a challenge to figure out how to make it unique.

One example would be the implementation of its vibration feature - we actually thought we can deliver a new form of experience by adding vibration to the mount movements, or the sound effects generated by crafters when crafting. We also draw a line to ensure the play feel during combat does not change with the new features. Since we received comments from players on how it “feels as if they’re actually experiencing it”, it does make us feel glad that we implemented such a feature.

On the aspect of improving and brushing up, we do think of continuing that process along with the feedback given. We do think those features will provide a new and unique experience here, so it’ll make us happy if players who bought a Playstation 5 can provide us their comments and thoughts when playing this game.

Shoichi Matsuzawa
Shoichi Matsuzawa

As was the case with the release of the Playstation 4 version, we managed to have the service for Playstation 5 go from beta to actual service in a short period of time.

While we had to ensure the process can run simultaneously with other tasks that are already ongoing, it is thanks to the efforts of all the staff members involved that we managed to wrap up the development and deliver the product to our players rather quickly.

Home consoles have a lower entry difficulty compared to playing on a PC, and I do think there’s a meaning to bringing the MMORPGs experience to players who only play on home consoles. Especially with the new features like the DualSense available, we hope the players will enjoy the game to the fullest.

Odagiri Kei
Odagiri Kei

Although I started getting involved in the development of FFXIV in the Playstation 3 era, I didn’t expect myself to be in charge of the development of a game across 3 generations of hardware… (laughs)

That too was also a deeply moving experience.

Closing Words From AkhMorning

Thus concludes the FanFest 2021 interviews. We hope that you enjoyed reading up on the responses from the members of the FFXIV development team!

As Endwalker approaches, we know how excited you are for information and updates. As we find out more, we’ll do our best to cover more articles.

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