Famitsu: How Eden's Gate Was Made! (Part 1)

Authors

Famitsu
Famitsu Japanese Video Games Media
Iluna Minori
Iluna Minori Translator | SEA | Chocobo
Nemekh Kinryuu
Nemekh Kinryuu Site Founder | EU | Leviathan

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 fourth translation article of overseas interviews, with part 2 being in progress as our fifth. 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.

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

This is How High Difficulty Raids for Final Fantasy XIV Are Made! The Developer’s Journey of Eden’s Gate. (Part 1)

Source Article

『FF14』の高難易度レイドはこうやって作られている! 希望の園エデン:覚醒編の開発者4名にインタビュー(前編)

Famitsu Article Staff

Eden's Gate Designers

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa Battle Content Lead | JP | Square Enix
Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa Battle Content | JP | Square Enix
Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima Battle Content | JP | Square Enix
Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto Battle Systems | JP | Square Enix

Masaki Nakagawa (Mr Ozma)

Lead Battle Content Designer.

In charge of Eden’s Gate 2nd floor (known in the community as E2). Referred to as Nakagawa (Masaki) for this interview.

Daisuke Nakagawa

Battle Content Designer.

In charge of Eden’s Gate 4th floor (known in the community as E4). Referred to as Nakagawa (Daisuke) for this interview.

Yoshito Nabeshima

Battle Content Designer.

In charge of Eden’s Gate 3rd Floor (known in the community as E3). Referred to as Nabeshima for this interview.

Takashi Kawamoto

Battle Systems Designer.

In charge of Eden’s Gate 1st Floor (known in the community as E1). Referred to as Kawamoto for this interview.

Famitsu
Famitsu

This Is How High Difficulty Raids for Final Fantasy XIV Are Made! The Developer’s Journey of Eden’s Gate

The Eden's Gate Team
The Eden's Gate Team

A get together of developers assigned for each floor! Within them lies someone who holds an unexpected amount of experience?

We have all the assigned members for Eden’s Gate gathered together today for the interview, and considering the members other than Nakagawa-san (refers to Nakagawa Masaki, known as Mr Ozma by the community) actually appearing in our local media for the very first time, I’d like the all the members here to do a self introduction and briefly touch on your history if you please.

First of all, we’ll start from Nakagawa-san.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Yes. I joined Square-Enix in December 2011. It was the time where both the legacy version of FFXIV and A Realm Reborn were developed concurrently.

I participated briefly in the development for the legacy version of FFXIV, and joined the ARR team after 1 to 2 years.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

So a complete old timer I take it?

Famitsu
Famitsu

It’s already 8 years… (laughs).

I’ve been at the position of consolidating battle content as a leader of the monster department since Patch 4.1 onwards.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

And then we have another Nakagawa-san in the room today as well.

Would you mind if we refer to you as Daisuke-san in order to make it less confusing? (laughs)

Famitsu
Famitsu

Sure. (laughs)

I joined Square-Enix in January 2015, and joined the development team for Heavensward during that period. From there on I worked on the Final Steps of Faith, and the 4th floor of the Omega raids since Sigmascape.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

So this means you were a player prior to joining the company in January, 2015?

Famitsu
Famitsu

That’s exactly correct.

My previous job was completely unrelated to games and I worked as an engineer and was involved in creating firmwares for industrial computers. Though I’ve been playing FFXIV ever since then but I’ve always wanted to get involved in game design since it was my childhood dream, so I resolved to give the application a try. And by some chance, I succeeded, so here I am.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

I don’t think it’s “by some chance” if you ask me. (laughs)

But still, looking at the list of contents you’ve worked on, to think you worked on the 4th floor of Sigmascape, then 4th floor of Alphascape, 4th floor of Eden’s Gate and not to mention, worked on The Epic of Alexander. That sure was quite an eye catching stuff that you’ve worked there.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I never thought of actually working on that kind of content so early in my career considering my experiences in game development. It really felt like I’ve made a great dash throughout the period. (laughs)

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

Come to think about it, I’ve heard that Daisuke-san was the one who said “I’ll work my best not to create content through following the example of the second floor of The Second Coil of Bahamut created by Sudo-san” during the newcomers greeting ceremony…

(Referring to Kenji Sudo, the battle content designer responsible for The Unending Coil of Bahamut and much more)

Famitsu
Famitsu

It was meant to be a joke, but Yoshida-san (referring to Naoki Yoshida, the Producer and Director of FFXIV) and Sudo-san shared that experience in a funny and interesting way that the topic went viral…

But on a serious note, I did learn a lot from Sudo-san and the shape of the content formed as you see it is all thanks to the good aspects I’ve implemented after learning from both Sudo-san and Nakagawa-san. It was Sudo-san who taught me to never give up on coming up with unique mechanics after all.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

I’d want Sudo-san to read this. (laughs)

Next we’ll have Nabeshima-san, if you please.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I joined the company in December 2010. I initially joined the company as an event planner for the legacy version of FFXIV. It was exactly one day before Yoshida-san fully took over the duties and authority for the game when I joined the company.

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima

That was some great timing there.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I was involved in creating other online games at a different company, so when I thought of changing jobs, I gave Square-Enix a try and got accepted. (laughs)

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima

This definitely is something I’ve heard before just now. (laughs)

Did you aim to join the FFXIV team the moment you joined the company?

Famitsu
Famitsu

Well, I thought it’d be nice to be involved in online game development so during the interview I was told “alright, then you’ll be with the FFXIV team” and I thought “Oh yeah!”.

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima

Even so, FFXIV was in quite a hectic situation at that time.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Well Yoshida wasn’t involved at that time so I did give a thought on how the game would end up and I had a “recharge” period when I quit my previous company so I was eager in getting to work as soon as possible.

However, the FFXIV team at that time was reaching its limit and the first thing Yoshida did after taking over was to tell the staff members to “give yourselves a good rest”. So to me, it felt like “what, a rest again?” (laughs)

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima

Although you personally had your stamina and vitality recharged, you went through a rough start. (laugh)

Famitsu
Famitsu

That’s right. (laughs)

From there I worked as a planner for Moonfire Faire while I was in the event division during the legacy period, once I moved to “A Realm Reborn”, I became the first event designer in that team.

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima
The Moonfire Faire which took place on the legacy version of FFXIV. It is an annual in-game event that takes place during Summer.
The Moonfire Faire which took place on the legacy version of FFXIV. It is an annual in-game event that takes place during Summer.

Lastly Kawamoto-san, if you please.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I joined the company in September 2013, just right after the launch of “A Realm Reborn”. I was assigned to the battle systems division after joining so I was mainly assigned to deal with job adjustments and planning, while also deal with content creation when the team faces insufficient manpower.

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

What inspired you to join the FFXIV team?

Famitsu
Famitsu

I was invited by Yokozawa (Tsuyoshi Yokozawa, Lead Battle System Designer) who was already working as a member in the FFXIV development team at that time, so that was the trigger.

Although Yokozawa is a game friend of mine, I’ve never thought that I would actually work in the game industry. However, considering Yokozawa extended his hands and wanted me to join and I went “Well, why not?”, hence I joined.

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

It feels like digging deeper into everyone’s portfolio would take the entire interview time here. (laughs)

Everyone laughs

Famitsu
Famitsu

We do have many other things we can talk about other than the raids. (laughs)

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

We still have lots of staff members like these over here. (laughs)

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

The Procedure of Creating Ideas for High End Raids

Since we’ve gone through some brief introductions, let’s get on to the main event shall we?

First, let’s begin by telling us your policies when creating content.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Once we begin on that, I’m afraid it’ll take around 2 hours… (laughs)

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Two hours! (Laughs)

I would appreciate it if that can be summarised…

Famitsu
Famitsu

Alright then. There are 3 main points to consider:

The first is to ensure the battle content has to be interesting. To achieve that we have to make sure the boss setting and story matches the content of the battle itself and the integration has to be done naturally.

For example, let’s use Sophia here. The backstory given here is that she’s the “goddess who controls balance and harmony”, and if that’s the case, the plan and mechanic that goes along with the setting were given a thorough thought and thus we came up with the mechanic that evoked the image of scales.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa
The stage of Goddess Sophia. Depending on the condition of the scales situated at either East or West, the stage can tilt and that was one of the features displayed.
The stage of Goddess Sophia. Depending on the condition of the scales situated at either East or West, the stage can tilt and that was one of the features displayed.

So the assembly has to include integration of lore setting into the gameplay and it will be displayed in the overall content.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Yes. And onto the second point, we always keep in mind to include as many mechanics and materials that are new and those not seen before into a content, with the meaning of delivering a surprise factor to our playerbase.

While there is a huge amount of content added during each update in FFXIV, adding new materials and mechanics into the battle is actually easier said than done.

However, it’ll be the end if we get completely worn out here so each person in our team is always open to discussing new challenges and surpassing hurdles.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

I think many players would be surprised at how you manage to come up with those ideas despite having been running the game overall and accumulated 6 years of experience.

Famitsu
Famitsu

And the third would be creating content that can leave a lasting impression and memories to the players.

Although I have been working on game design for around 8 years now, I sometimes do hold a conservative mindset of “creating things that don’t attract criticisms’’ as well.

FFXIV is updated once every 3 and a half months, and during that, many players would send us their feedback, and it’s inevitable that we’ll face criticisms over the things we’ve created.

As things continue, there may be times where we tend to end up with a mindset that, instead of making things that are interesting, we’ll end up making things that don’t attract criticisms. So if we fall into that mindset and go along with it, we’ll end up losing our creativity. The content would end up less memorable and it’ll result in a content that scored 70 out of 100 at best.

To make it simpler to understand, instead of having a content that gets a score of 70 out of 100 by 100 players that rate it, it would be better to have 50 players among 100 that gives a score of 100, or 40, depending on their preference. Of course that’s only if we are aiming to have a full 100 score given by all 100 players to begin with.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

I guess this is the iconic problem of having a network community that is run by fully developed pseudonyms.

It’s true that criticisms are necessary and important, but overly strong criticisms would just make people end up disheartened.

Famitsu
Famitsu

We too have team members here who tend to have that conservative feeling.

And if they themselves end up giving into this feeling, they will no longer be able to create interesting things.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

The result of running away from criticisms out of fear is the content getting stale, and it will create a bad cycle as the result…alright. Let’s move on to Daisuke-san next, shall we?

Famitsu
Famitsu

Since I’m also one of the players of this game, I made sure to hold this simple creed of creating content that I think I’ll be able to enjoy if I were to play it. If I were to think “This is boring” when I imagine it, no matter how fitting it would be during the planning stage, I’ll not let it pass.

The rest is just as Nakagawa mentioned earlier, that MMORPGs are meant to be played continuously for a long term, and if the implemented content structure remains the same throughout, players will definitely end up bored.

We always have to pay attention to that and find out what we should do in order to not let players get bored of it, or what we should do to let the players feel surprised every time. There are many types of surprises here and if we have to go through them, I’m afraid it’s going to take another 2 hours here… (laughs)

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

Another one that’s going to take 2 hours? (laughs)

Famitsu
Famitsu

Jokes aside (laughs), putting it straightforward, we’re forming plans based on how the bosses would fit the lore, and whether we would be able to come out with mechanics that are both fun and be able to deliver the surprise factor, as well as the others.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

Thank you for summarising the points. (laughs).

Next, we will have Nabeshima-san.

Famitsu
Famitsu

My policy is always thinking of creating content while delivering as many new experiences as possible to the players.

While I did have the experience of level design creation for the past 3 years, I’d like to think that my strong point is to create mechanics that combine level design and battle content, and I thought by doing so I’ll be able to deliver new experiences to the players around.

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima

I see. I hope to hear more from you regarding this aspect later on.

Next, Kawamoto-san.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Since we have 4 of our members here we will have some overlaps…but my absolute requirement is to create content that is fun and interesting when I play it myself.

When it comes to bosses, the lore behind the bosses is important and is something I need to take care of.

As for the rest, although I’m one of the designers assigned to create the deepest floors of Deep Dungeon, I find myself enjoying the difficulty and the challenging aspects that come with designing the floors.

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

The part of having a sense as a gamer, as well as “a new experience” is a common trait found across every player out there.

Now, I’d like to move on to the actual topic on content creation. How does the process of creating a high difficulty raid work?

Famitsu
Famitsu

First, the discussion on high difficulty raids would start by having Yoshida, Oda (Banri Oda, The Lore Setting and Main Scenario Writer), Ishikawa (Natsuko Ishikawa, Main Scenario Writer), Yokozawa and myself to decide on the overall direction.

Taking The Bend of Time Omega series as an example here, the scenario and lore setting behind the series is written as, “Omega, in order to strengthen itself, sets up a tournament in order to ascertain their opponent, ultimately accept that humanity has reached its peak, and finally emulate humanity itself”.

This would be the simple brief that we will receive during that phase. We’ll then take that brief and propose ideas on which bosses will appear, and have the artists from the art team draw us a rough design after everything is decided.

We’ll then look through the rough artwork, and have the previously mentioned members to decide on the structure of how the battle goes.

Once the overall direction is decided, it will then be assigned to battle content designers to work on further details. This is the basic gist behind our development scene.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Were the enemies we were going to fight already decided in the first meeting?

Famitsu
Famitsu

Actually, most of them weren’t decided until the end. Though Deltascape (The Bend of Time - Omega: Deltascape) was based on FFV as its theme, we were in bind on how to proceed for Sigmascape (The Bend of Time - Omega: Sigmascape).

Since Sudo was the one handling Deltascape 4th floor, and there was also that major gimmick where we utilised Exdeath for that floor itself, I was wondering how we should proceed from there… (laughs bitterly)

When I then discussed with the team, we then came up with two choices of utilizing either “FFVI’’ or “FFIX” as our next theme. So, if we went with “FFIX”, then the structure would be this; And if “FFVI”, the structure would be that. With that, we then conducted our presentation to Yoshida. From there we chose “FFVI”, and the final result would be what we see today.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa
The battle seen on Bend of Time: Omega - Deltascape 4 (Savage) is a 8-man raid battle that is split into 2 phases, and the 2nd phase of the battle, which the players fought against Neo Exdeath, is a unique phase that is only available on the Savage version of the battle. This battle composition not seen up until now ended up attracting huge discussions from the community.
The battle seen on Bend of Time: Omega - Deltascape 4 (Savage) is a 8-man raid battle that is split into 2 phases, and the 2nd phase of the battle, which the players fought against Neo Exdeath, is a unique phase that is only available on the Savage version of the battle. This battle composition not seen up until now ended up attracting huge discussions from the community.

By the way, were the bosses decided all the way through for the entire Eden series?

Famitsu
Famitsu

Of course we do leave some questions to ponder in this overall direction we’ve come up with, so there are aspects that were decided while some others remain undecided.

For the direction in FFXIV, we would usually look into the feedback post release, add some flavour into our initial idea based on player demand, and further modify our overall direction and structure in order to improve on the content before releasing them to the public.

This is how we proceed with our development, with our direction further adjusted with the method mentioned above.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

So I assume that with the bosses selected and decided, the visual design of the bosses will be handed to each assigned member to work on?

Famitsu
Famitsu

It is my job to order the designs from the art team. The assigned members will think of how to work on the battle specifics itself with the design as its base.

Since I’ll be working on the integration and supervision, there may be “must include” elements where I’ll order them to insert into the content.

For example, in the fourth floor of Alphascape, I had the designers incorporate the elements of “Omega being a humanoid enemy that can melt into liquid and mold itself to change their gender and form”, and have them design the battle gameplay based on the element in mind.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

I see. The enemies we fought from the direction up to the visual itself were all done based on decisions made by the members including Nakagawa-san. The task to create the battle is then assigned to the members from the battle content team.

I would like to know how the team roster is decided for Eden’s Gate?

Famitsu
Famitsu

First let’s touch on the first floor…eh? Why was Kawamoto the one who handled this? (laughs)

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Well, all battle content designers had their hands full, and there wasn’t anyone to pass the task to, which was why. (laughs)

Basically the tasks related to Shadowbringers I’ve done here are mostly the ones that no one worked on due to being occupied with other priorities. (laughs)

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

An existence like a temple that provides refuge to the team I take it. (laughs)

Famitsu
Famitsu

Also, the fact that Kawamoto is very knowledgeable in FFVIII also helped.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Yeah indeed. Since I was a fan of FFVIII, it got me really motivated when I heard that the boss is Eden Prime.

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

What about the other floors?

Famitsu
Famitsu

On the 4th floor, there can be no other but Daisuke.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

So for the 4th floor, Daisuke-san was briefly assigned to work on it

Famitsu
Famitsu

Since Daisuke, being a member of the Battle Content team that has been creating high difficulty content with a consistent manner, the 4th floor was assigned to him because of that.

Of course, while we’ve managed to mentor other members in the team, considering the timing where the raid is to be released with the expansion, we had to assign Daisuke to bear this major responsibility.

Nabeshima used to work on Bend of Time: Omega - Alphascape 3rd floor so we had him work on a 3rd floor of a different raid once again. This was the decision made to ensure the stability of the lineup.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

So this was done to preserve the quality.

Famitsu
Famitsu

We received many positive opinions on the 3rd floor of Alphascape, so we thought of creating another fight that maintains the same quality, which contributed to the reason behind having Nabeshima to work on this stage.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

In Savage, the 3rd floor usually acts as a “wall” of the raid tier, were there any changes in the difficulty for each floor?

Famitsu
Famitsu

The overall direction has largely remained since the changes we made during Alexander: Creator, so we do make sure that the 3rd floor remains the wall of the raid tier. However, that’s not to say the third or fourth floor are a lot more difficult when creating content, the first and second floor have its own difficulty to deal with as well.

The allocated resources (people and time required for development) for the first and second floor is actually much restricted compared to the third and fourth floor, and there is another issue to consider as well, where creating a content that give players the feeling of toughness in difficulty while at the same time able to clear easily actually requires more thought invested compared to creating difficult content.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

To ensure the content is clearable is indeed something that requires consideration.

Famitsu
Famitsu

That’s right. I do pay quite an amount of attention to that part.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Would the contents of those proposals during production be shared amongst each member that are assigned to work on the floors?

Famitsu
Famitsu

I mainly try to initiate discussions verbally myself. Whenever I thought of new ideas I would frequently share them with the members around me. Then I’ll pay attention to their responses and if it’s positive, the idea will then be approved and used.

It’s not really just amongst our members here, but other team members would do the same by asking around whenever they come up with new ideas.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

As for me, I mainly worked alone and thought up various ideas when working on the Omega raids but I did have trouble coming up with ideas for Eden raids, so I discussed frequently with different members.

In my case, I was assigned to work on the third floor which the players would go against Leviathan, but since Leviathan first appeared on “A Realm Reborn” and was an extraordinary trial battle of its time.

Since Nakagawa was the one who created the battle, I then worked on the battle mainly with hints given by him. However, I ended up receiving a lot of NGs during the presentation of my idea… (laughs bitterly)

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima

Let’s hear that in detail later once we get to the exploration of each floor. (laughs)

What about Kawamoto-san then?

Famitsu
Famitsu

I would usually compile everything that’s needed and then bring them to Nakagawa for discussion.

When facing things that are concerning, I’d approach Yokozawa who sits near me for discussion.

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

That’s quite open when it comes to that kind of development. And then, Nakagawa-san would be the one you discussed with.

Famitsu
Famitsu

That’s right. There’s always someone who would be around my work desk.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Looks like a content consultation corner that could attract a queue. (laughs).

Famitsu
Famitsu

We really do have discussions all the time, and we generally always talk to someone.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

So for Nakagawa-san, who would you talk to when you’re stuck?

Famitsu
Famitsu

I do have discussions with Yokozawa. I usually summarise how I want to present my concept and my thoughts and explain it to him within 60 seconds.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

The 60 second rule! I remember Nakagawa-san, mentioned something about “explaining things in 60 seconds, and ideas that are thought to don’t attract any interest will be rejected” at the stage of the developers panel held at Las Vegas’ Fan Festival during 2016

Famitsu
Famitsu

That’s right. When thinking of an idea, I tend to write what I thought of and put it on the memo, and review them later on. All ideas tend to start from the writing noted over there.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

So once all proposals are gathered and consolidated, the assigned members will then approach Yoshida-san to present their ideas?

Famitsu
Famitsu

No. First I’ll be the one they’ll approach for a presentation.

Once I gave an okay, the battle system team and battle content team will all gather to proceed with the next presentation.

Once everything is clear without issues, the artists and programmers will be approached to be given a presentation, in that order.

Finally, Yoshida will be approached to confirm the proposal based on the information given, only then he’ll give his final approval.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

That’s quite the barrier. Were there cases where the proposal ended up overturned by Yoshida-san?

Famitsu
Famitsu

When it comes to Yoshida making major changes, the cases of that happening is close to zero. Even if there are, it usually happens during play testing (in other words, the Producer/Director check), where Yoshida would go “since this happened during the scenario, then this should be that”, and that’s the extent of it. This would show how much Yoshida trusts the battle content team.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

By the way, with Gunbreaker and Dancer added as the new jobs for Shadowbringers, has the raid difficulty and its design changed through the jobs that were added into the game?

Famitsu
Famitsu

Since the job balance is usually done by the battle system team, as long as the battle content team pay attention to the job roles, there is nothing to concern in regards to that aspect.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

I was told that “there is nothing to worry about” as well. If any, the addition of the “Interrupt” (※) system is the only one that requires attention, and that’s about it.

※ A new system added to Shadowbringers. A feature where a specific skill launched by an enemy would require players to interrupt. “

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima

Of course all the assigned team members are aware of the new and additional actions added to each job.

While we are aware of the actions here, it doesn’t largely affect the difficulty of our raid design here.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

The real issue here is how we develop our expansion content concurrently with our proposal here, so there are cases where we had extremely short time and sometimes couldn’t even make it due to forming content proposals after waiting for the final job adjustments.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

The Fears of Creating “Savage”

So, when it comes to high difficulty raids, which aspect of its creation is especially difficult when creating Savage content?

Famitsu
Famitsu

That would be the high hurdle that comes with the demand starting from the planning phase.

Content like Savage requires really high precision in planning compared to other contents. Any slight loophole in that aspect will compromise the mechanic design and the content will be broken. In order to avoid that, we need to pay extra attention and ensure there are no loopholes created during the proposal stage.

If we did discover such loopholes that exist during the production stage then of course we’ll have to redo it, and this especially affects the designer and programmers assigned for Savage, and this will end up bloating our cost in the process.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

It’s not that FFXIV doesn’t have what we call “unexpected” during the raid progression stage, this kind of situation is really rare.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Actually, we had this slight issue during the production of Ultimate Alexander raid, so to have complete control to ensure no unexpected issues occur is a difficult thing.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

There are certain parts that are created with excellent solving methods by the players in mind. Although it would be nice if it’s not through obvious bugs or majorly broken methods.

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

If the content contains critical loopholes then all of our efforts will go to waste, so we don’t feel relieved until I’m sure it has been cleared after release. Those are the ones that worry us non-stop. (laughs)

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima

Recently there has been an increase of players streaming their raid progression, and I wonder if you watched it?

Famitsu
Famitsu

I do watch it, of course.

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

Everyone would gather and watch right after the implementation, yeah.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

The scariest thing is having the raid progression seep into weekends.

It keeps me wondering if there are bugs, and the anxiety that comes with it. (laughs)

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

The more difficult it is, the pressure of having loopholes occur that even the slightest bit of it equals unacceptable” becomes stronger throughout, and the pinnacle of that anxiety can be seen in our “Ultimate” series.

You can see that Daisuke really felt that pressure after releasing the Ultimate Alexander raid to the public.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

I was so afraid that I couldn’t even bring myself to read the feedback.

I had every single info shut out of my knowledge. (laughs)

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

To that extent? (laughs)

Famitsu
Famitsu

Even if he shuts it out, since he sits near to Yokozawa, he would watch the stream and at the same time update Daisuke on the progression, and the two of them would then discuss it. I think he is well aware and heard of what happened. (laughs)

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

I could hear it perfectly (laughs).

It really put the feeling of my anxiety to its extreme. Even though I had quite a lot of unease feelings since then, it can’t be compared against the anxiety I felt back then.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

Looks like Sudo-san or Yokozawa-san themselves enjoyed the Ultimate progression streams of the ones they made, that sure served as a contrast (laughs).

Famitsu
Famitsu

Looks like it. But I don’t think I’m there yet… one of the things required to create ideas and proposals for high difficulty content would be experience. Although Nakagawa (Masaki) did mention how “it wasn’t really difficult”.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

I’ve been doing this for 8 years, so in terms of creating content by myself, it definitely doesn’t feel difficult.

However, the new staff members that I spend time trying to grow will have problems trying to convey what they are trying to achieve here…

Although I’ve been creating manuals here and there, that doesn’t mean whoever read the manual of how to create Savage content will automatically know how to create one. It really is difficult when it comes to training someone.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Is there a lot of sense to it?

Famitsu
Famitsu

For example, I don’t think I am able to provide you a proper answer if you are to ask “How do I come up with this mechanic in 1 week?”. But it’s also wrong to just say “I don’t know, think through it yourself” and leave it be, so I want to ensure a proper support is given when it comes to this.

Having said that, to conclude this question with the answer of sense is also not the right way about it, I think. There are many aspects to consider, such as, how they should change their perspective to reach an answer when the junior staff members couldn’t think up an interesting mechanic, and similarly, what kind of methods should they employ to create a mechanic in order to finish up their proposals for Savage in such a limited time.

There is no way we can raise people without providing proper advice to our juniors in order to tackle each and every issue they face.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

So even though Nakagawa-san handled the 2nd floor of Eden’s Gate, it feels as if you’re investing a lot more into raising young bloods.

Famitsu
Famitsu

That’s right. I do want to create content sometimes, of course. Creating content is fun, that’s why.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

So… does that mean the next Ultimate would be done by Nakagawa-san..? (laughs)

Famitsu
Famitsu

If Nakagawa-san is to work on it, the operational side will have issues. The tasks will not proceed smoothly (laughs).

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

“You must absolutely not touch it”, I was told… (laughs)

Although I do want to give it a try.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

However, I did feel the depths of the staff members behind this raid, especially the three of you who appeared in this interview for the first time.

Famitsu
Famitsu

We thought that we couldn’t have the same people doing the thinking all the time.

Additionally with the release of Shadowbringers, we felt the need to increase our members who can create battle content in our department. This resulted in our collaboration with the NieR series (YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse) that is scheduled to be released for patch 5.1, and the raids will be handled by our new staff members. With them getting involved, it also provides some ample challenge for them to try out new things.

Through the collaboration this time, completely new things will be created as opposed to things that can’t be created by seniors who kept creating the usual things throughout.

Of course, this couldn’t happen without the support of our veteran staff members here, but in order to create new things, we felt that it’ll definitely help if we get our new staff members to be involved.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa
The collaboration content with NieR series, YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse.
The collaboration content with NieR series, YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse.

It seems that the overall project development for FFXIV is getting a new wind of change.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Sudo and I used to discuss a lot on “How we should definitely need to raise new blood, because if we continue working on creating things we will end up getting bored of it” during the times where both of us were the main members in content creation.

With that thought in mind, we spent our time raising new bloods bit by bit throughout. The result is what you’ll see in Patch 5.1, or something like that.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

So will the next tier, Eden’s Verse, go through a reorganisation in terms of members in the planning stage?

Famitsu
Famitsu

We thought of letting our new staff members be in charge of the project so the days where Daisuke will no longer be able to create the 4th floor would be close, I guess.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

I do want to play a 4th floor raid that is created by other designers! It’s about time I say! (Laughs)

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

While he has his own, we here have a huge amount of things we want to convey to our young staff members with the experiences we have accumulated throughout the years.

Although it’s not clear whether there is a day where Daisuke will no longer work on the 4th floor of a raid tier but I do think those days will not be too far ahead now.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

When that happens I’m sure it’ll feel lonely.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I’m sure he gave his all for the Alexander Ultimate raid.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

You could say it’s my graduation thesis.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa
Ultimate series, the raid that is said to be the highest in difficulty. The latest released right now, which is The Epic of Alexander, is created by Daisuke Nakagawa.
Ultimate series, the raid that is said to be the highest in difficulty. The latest released right now, which is The Epic of Alexander, is created by Daisuke Nakagawa.

Sudo-san said the same thing as well if I’m not mistaken. (laughs)

Famitsu
Famitsu

Yokozawa as well. (laughs)

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Content Creation That Reflects The Personalities Of The Team

Well then, let’s hear more about this in detail: are there any mechanics that you’d unconsciously implement when creating content?

Famitsu
Famitsu

This is especially prevalent in the 4th floor but I would likely insert any mechanics that require players to look and solve.

Such as the Wings of Destruction mechanic seen when fighting Kefka in Sigmascape v4, and if we are talking Alphascape v4 it would be Omega’s Diffuse Wave Cannon. Those are the two prime examples of the ones I’ve mentioned above.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

So mechanics that require solving based on boss behaviour and actions.

Famitsu
Famitsu

That’s right. But I guess I’m nearly out of new materials here. (laughs)

Next would be mechanics that contain 2 different methods to resolve, another one that I use often. Putting this in the context of Titan seen in Eden’s Gate 4th floor, it’d be the segment where the up-down split is involved.

I like to create situations that don’t require making the same movements every time, and move according to the situation given at hand, so having multiple patterns to deal with a mechanic is something I like to create.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

Each of us here has this habit we’d end up using.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

In my case, I like creating mechanics that require all players to move in unison, and act things out in unity. (laughs)

I tend to always think of creating situations that require everyone facing strong enemies together regardless of their roles. Though in the case of Eden, it became something of a foe instead… (laughs)

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima

Although I’m really interested in this one, let’s save this conversation for later. (laughs)

After all, your preferences are reflected in the content.

Famitsu
Famitsu

There is indeed much content that Nakagawa (Masaki) made that makes you think “wow this is really Nakagawa-like”. Though it’s hard to say that in detail…

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

Like how the Warriors of Light should lick their floor here, and so on…

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

Wait a minute! Language! (laughs)

Everyone Laughs

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

If anything it doesn’t occur much during the high difficulty content but happens more in the dungeons, I think.

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

I have my own policy when it comes to dungeons. For example, players who fail mechanics even in dungeons should be defeated and wipe, and that’s something I often tell the members around me.

Since a dungeon is made with the intention for players to farm constantly, it has to be made easy and every player has the ability to solve. Therefore there should be some room allowed for players to continue despite failing mechanics, but I think that should not be the case.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

To not fall even if you fail would require the healer’s cooperation as the premise, but it’s true that you can sometimes ignore mechanics during a dungeon run.

Famitsu
Famitsu

When that happens, it’s possible that any player can just clear the stage without knowing how the mechanics work. I believe I’ve asked “Is this really fine?” to the staff members who work on the damage adjustments countless times due to that.

One of the good examples here would be one of the mechanics used by one of the bosses, namely Mortal Flame, found in the Grand Cosmos dungeon boss that I personally designed myself.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Ah! That one mechanic where you can never avoid getting knocked out if you fail the mechanic.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I’ve been told by many that “Wouldn’t that be too harsh? How about making it to ensure they don’t instantly get knocked out instead?”. But it’s definitely not applicable here and they should fall in case they fail. I mean, it’s named Mortal Flame for a reason.

Everyone laughs.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

This is why he frequently gets into arguments doing that (laughs).

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

The Mortal Flame mechanic uses the concept of flames that burn its target until it ceases to exist, and will absolutely not disappear.

By making it just a damaging skill would undermine the foundation of this concept, therefore it’s absolutely not something I’ll do, because having to bend the concept that symbolises the battle mechanic is not something anyone should do.

Hence, if you ignore the Mortal Flame mechanic, there is no way you will avoid getting knocked out.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa
The Grand Cosmos: If you ignore the Mortal Flame mechanic, you will not be able to avoid losing the battle.
The Grand Cosmos: If you ignore the Mortal Flame mechanic, you will not be able to avoid losing the battle.

I see… therefore in order to resolve the mechanic you will have to find furniture scattered around the arena and transfer the flame to avoid getting knocked out, and having those furniture destroyed through other means will make you stuck with no other options.

So with that in mind, it does feel as if the knock-out penalty you received for not resolving the mechanic does leave quite an impression.

We’ll move on to Kawamoto-san next. Do you have any peculiarities?

Famitsu
Famitsu

He sure gives the impression of being able to create beautiful content.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

Kawamoto usually has the knack of creating combination mechanics that no other members in our battle content team would think of. And he usually gets it done within 2 to 3 days.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

So Kawamoto-san works fast?

Famitsu
Famitsu

Quite fast I’d say.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

In other words, tasks that are assigned to me are always done without hesitation (laughs).

Everyone laughs

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

So you had no choice but to do it…

Famitsu
Famitsu

Oh well. (laughs)

Putting aside the situation, it’s true that time is money here.

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

Here ends the first chapter of our interview. The second chapter of this interview that is scheduled to be released in the future will cover more on each individual floors of Eden’s Gate! So please look forward to it!

Famitsu
Famitsu
Eden's Gate: Sepultre (Savage)
Eden's Gate: Sepultre (Savage)

Content Credits

The list below contains the content where 4 of the staff members worked on! By looking at the list you’ll get to enjoy the personalities and the preferences of each staff member.

With FFXIV entering its 6th year of operation and beyond (10th year if you count the Legacy version), I’m pretty sure you’ll see some listed content that you may not remember. The list should provide you the chance of finding out which content did those particular staff members worked on, and who knows, you may be able to find some enjoyment from replaying them.

Masaki Nakagawa: Battle Content Lead

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa Battle Content Lead | JP | Square Enix

Dungeons

  • Pharos Sirius
  • Hullbreaker Isle
  • The Sunken Temple of Qarn (Hard)
  • The Lost City of Amdapor (Hard)
  • Sohr Khai
  • The Burn (Mist Dragon)
  • The Heroes’ Gauntlet (Spectral Berserker)

Trials

  • A Relic Reborn: The Chimera
  • A Relic Reborn: The Hydra
  • The Bowl of Embers (Ifrit)
  • The Howling Eye (Garuda)
  • The Whorleater (Leviathan)
  • Akh Afah Amphitheatre (Shiva)
  • The Chrysalis (Ascian Nabriales)
  • Thok Ast Thok (Ravana)
  • Containment Bay P1T6 (Sophia)
  • The Royal Menagerie (Shinryu)

Higher Difficulty Raids

Alexander

  • Alexander Midas 1 - The Fist of the Son (Ratfinx Twinkledinks)
  • Alexander Midas 3 - The Arm of the Son (Quickthinx Allthoughts)
  • Alexander Creator 3 - The Heart of the Creator (Cruise Chaser)

The Bend of Time: Omega

  • Omega: Sigmascape 3 - Sigmascape 3.0 (Guardian)

Eden Series

  • Eden’s Gate 2: Descent (Voidwalker)
  • Eden’s Verse 1: Fulmination (Ramuh - Planning phase only)

Alliance Raidss

Crystal Tower: Syrcus Tower

  • Scylla
  • Glasya Labolas
  • Amon
  • Xande

Crystal Tower: The World of Darkness

  • Angra Mainyu
  • Five-headed Dragon
  • Cerberus
  • Cloud of Darkness

Void Ark

  • Irminsul and Sawtooth
  • Echidna

The Weeping City of Mhach

  • Ozma

Dun Scaith

  • Scathach
  • Diabolos
  • Diabolos Hollow

Quest Battles

All quest battles from 2.0 to 4.0 will not be listed in full due to the sheer number of involvements.

Involved in over 100 quests starting from patch 2.0 to 4.0.

Other

  • The Forbidden Land of Eureka series
  • Faith (Trust) System AI - The base
  • The Bozjan Southern Front

Daisuke Nakagawa: Battle Content Designer

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa Battle Content | JP | Square Enix

Dungeons

  • Saint Mocianne’s Arboretum
  • Ala Mhigo

Trials

  • The Final Steps of Faith
  • Castrum Fluminis (Tsukuyomi)
  • The Dying Gasp (Normal mode only)

Ultimates

  • The Epic of Alexander

High Difficulty Raids

The Alexander Raid Series

  • Alexander: The Creator - The Breath of the Creator: Lamebrix Strikebocks

The Bend of Time: Omega raid series

  • Sigmascape v4: Kefka
  • Alphascape v4: Omega M and Omega F

Eden Series

  • Eden’s Gate: Sepulture: Titan

24-man Alliance Raidss

Dun Scaith

  • Deathgaze Hollow
  • Ferdiad Hollow

Return to Ivalice series: The Royal City of Rabanastre

  • Hashmal, Bringer of Order

Return to Ivalice series: The Orbonne Monastery

  • The Thunder God (Cid)

Quest Battles

Main Story Quest Battles

Patch 3.1:

  • As Goes Light, So Goes Darkness

Patch 3.2:

  • A Spectacle for the Ages

Patch 3.4:

  • One Life for One World

Patch 4.0:

  • Best Served With Cold Steel
  • In Crimson It Began
  • It’s Probably a Trap
  • The Time Between the Seconds
  • Naadam
  • Rhalgr’s Beacon
  • The Resonant
  • The Measure of His Reach

Patch 4.1:

  • Return of the Bull

Others

The Forbidden Land of Eureka: Baldesion Arsenal

  • Absolute Virtue
  • Proto Ozma

Yoshito Nabeshima: Battle Content Designer

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima Battle Content | JP | Square Enix

Dungeons

  • Sohm Al (Hard)
  • Kugane Castle

Trials

  • The Jade Stoa (Byakko)
  • The Wreath of Snakes (Seiryu)

High Difficulty Raids

The Bend of Time: Omega Series

  • Deltascape v1.0: Alte Roite
  • Alphascape v3.0: Omega

Eden Series

Eden’s Gate 3: Inundation (Leviathan)

24-man Alliance Raids

The Weeping City of Mhach

  • Arachne Eve

Return to Ivalice series: The Royal City of Rabanastre

  • Argath Thadalfus

Return to Ivalice series: The Ridorana Lighthouse

  • Famfrit the Darkening Cloud

Quest Battles

Dark Knight Job Quest Battles (Stormblood)

  • The Orphans and the Broken Blade (Level 66 Quest)
  • Our Compromise (Level 70 Quest)

Physical DPS Role Quest Battle (Shadowbringers)

  • Courage Born of Fear (Level 80 Quest)

Main Story Quest Battles

Patch 4.5:

  • A Requiem for Heroes

Others

F.A.T.E

  • A Horse Outside - Ixion (F.A.T.E)

Mob Hunts

Mob Hunts for Patch 4.0

The Forbidden Land of Eureka

Notorious Monsters:

  • Pazuzu
  • Copycat Cassie

※ Almost everything in Pagos is handled by him. There are others but they will be omitted.

Proposal Design for Eureka Weapons

  • Eureka Weapons: Anemos
  • Eureka Weapons: Pagos

Takashi Kawamoto: Battle System Designer

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto Battle Systems | JP | Square Enix

Dungeons

  • The Tam-Tara Deepcroft (Hard)
  • The Dusk Vigil
  • Sohm Al
  • The Aetherochemical Research Facility
  • The Fractal Continuum (Hard) - Motherbit, The Ultima Beast
  • Malikah’s Well

Trials

  • Battle on the Big Bridge (Gilgamesh)
  • Battle in the Big Keep (Gilgamesh, Enkidu)
  • Kugane Ohashi (Gilgamesh, Yojimbo)
  • The Great Hunt (Rathalos)
  • Minstrel’s Ballad: Hades’s Elegy (Hades)

High Difficulty Raids

Eden’s Gate

Eden’s Gate: Resurrection (Eden Prime)

Quest Battles

Tank Role Quest Battles (Shadowbringers)

  • The Hardened Hearts (Level 76 Quest)
  • To Have Loved and Lost (Level 80 Quest)

Others

  • The Hall of the Novice
  • Deep Dungeon: The Palace of the Dead (Only on monsters, Bosses excluded)
  • Deep Dungeon: Heaven-on-High (Everything except the boss Hiruko)

Closing Words From AkhMorning

We hope you really enjoyed the translated first part of “How Eden’s Gate Was Made!”.

As always a big thank you to Iluna for working so diligently alongside me in bringing more of the Battle Content Developer interviews from the East to the West.

Part 2 is in the works and we’ll get it out to you as soon as we can. After that we’ll be eagerly awaiting the interview for Eden’s Promise.

Until next time!