Famitsu: How Eden's Gate Was Made! (2/2)

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

Eden's Gate Designers

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa Battle Content Director | 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
Famitsu
Famitsu

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.

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

Here comes the second part of the interview of Eden’s Gate for Final Fantasy XIV (henceforth known as “FFXIV”) with 4 developers who worked on this raid tier. In this latter half of the interview, we’ll look deeper into all the floors and their thought process.

A Battle With Prime Right Off the Bat!?

Eden Prime
Eden Prime
Famitsu
Famitsu

Based on the flow of all the high difficulty raid series here, it seems that we’re expected to deal with another Prime as the last boss for the 3rd season of the raid. However, what we got was the battle with Eden Prime for the first season of the raid. Not only that, it appeared right at the 1st floor.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

We have reasons for that. The first was due to the surprise factor, and we do have another reason here, but we can’t say a word yet… until the whole scenario ends at Patch 5.4.

I believe the mystery behind this will be cleared once all players complete the entire tier. Since it’ll take some time before that reason is answered, so I’d like all of you to look forward to it.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Was this decided during the beginning of the meeting?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

That’s right.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I believed we talked about the difficulty of each floor in our previous interview, but what about the difficulty for this tier compared to the past Savage raids?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

On balancing difficulty, I believed we’ve touched on how the answer lies on Alexander Creator for numerous times now, so it’s a given that we took the same approach when it comes to the Eden series.

However, the next will require some detailed explanation but if we are to compare Eden’s Gate Savage with The Bend of Time: Omega Alphascape Savage, it is certain that Eden’s Gate being designed to be easier to clear was a deliberate choice.

The reason is due to how we saw a huge increase of new players joining during the release of the new expansion (Shadowbringers), so even if it’s high difficulty content, we need to ensure the content is easily approachable and that was the direction we took for this tier. We do however plan to gradually increase the difficulty coming Patch 5.2 and Patch 5.4, when the tier progresses further.

Famitsu
Famitsu

On the other hand, is there anything that is changed deliberately when looking at previous Savage fights we’ve had up till now?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

As you can see clearly, the 4th floor seen on the Bend of Time: Omega Savage has the battle split into 2 parts, and that was the style we took back then. For this, we’ve made the latter half of the Savage-only battle an extra element, and this was done with the intention of providing players some form of surprise. However, making it a staple element will diminish the surprise factor, don’t you think?

In addition to that, we also received feedback on how the total time required to battle the 4th floor was really long, so we wanted to stop using this format for Eden’s Gate for the time being. Even so, we don’t promise that we’ll stop utilising the 2 part format forever so we’ll keep looking into feedback and adjust accordingly.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I believe you previously mentioned that “the answer lies in Alexander: Creator” here but is this something that’s shared amongst the team members?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

That’s right. We often talk about this.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

Actually, when we tried Creator on a public world, we found that the balance we did for that tier was by far the most fun we had.

Alexander Prime Using Divine Spear In Creator
Alexander Prime Using Divine Spear In Creator

Throughout Alexander Savage, the difficulty for Gordias, which is the first tier of the raid, and Midas, the second tier was really high and many players had difficulty going through it. Then followed by Creator and its appearance, while still tough, allowed the players to feel as if they’re gradually progressing and that balance was superb.

Famitsu
Famitsu

It has the right amount of challenge and sense of accomplishment, and it’s the perfect level of difficulty for a wide range of players. There was indeed a superb balance there. Also, did this contribute to the reason for why the “Ultimate” series was created?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

That’s right. When we worked on Creator, we discussed and found out that if we want to proceed in that direction, we’ll definitely have players who would ask for a much tougher fight. So we brought that discussion to Yoshida and in the end that was how the Ultimate series was born.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Alright then, we’d like to hear more details about each floor of the tier.

Let’s begin with Eden Prime who appeared on the 1st floor. First, let us know the concept behind this boss.

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

I was involved in the creation and reenactment of the summon animation for Eden, the Guardian Force that first appeared in FFVIII, into FFXIV. Given that the boss was set to appear in the first high difficulty raid tier for Shadowbringers, as well as the first boss you’ll encounter, I thought it’d be nice to create something that’s impactful.

As for the rest, since this is the 1st floor, I made sure to create a difficulty that is challenging that befits the raid and at the same time, made it mild so that it’s not overly difficult.

The Eden you see in this game is full of mysteries so I wasn’t actually clear on what was the lore behind the boss when I learnt that I’ll be the one assigned to work on this. Therefore, I created Eden’s skills with the impression that it feels natural without being out of place, yet not overly restricted by its lore setting.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Previously you mentioned that there wasn’t really much cost involved in creating the 1st and 2nd floor, but wouldn’t creating such a lengthy animation end up a burden on the cost instead?

Eden Prime's Eternal Breath
Eden Prime's Eternal Breath

Animation of Eternal Breath, the ultimate move of the Guardian Force Eden who appeared in FFVIII.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

We did indeed manage it without much cost involved.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

It seemed as if we had to squeeze everything else to the limit in order to create that.

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

Since the designers worked hard on this one, you would think it cost a lot to create the animation, but it actually wasn’t the case. Considering the knowledge and experience we’ve had up till now, we ended up allocating our cost properly for the other parts of the battle as well.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I thought that animation would be removed from the Savage mode. (laughs)

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

Considering it’s the identity of Eden Prime, I definitely can’t bring myself to remove it. If it were the third and 4th floor, I’d be willing to trim it off considering the frequency of wipes that would come with the progression, but this is the 1st floor you see.

For the 1st floor, I planned to have the difficulty tuned to the level where players who love raiding can complete the challenge once in 2 to 3 weeks. So the feeling is something like “Just you see, I’ll make it once per week or something…”. (laughs)

Famitsu
Famitsu

Next we would like to touch on the mechanics.

When Eden Prime uses “Paradise Regained”, we see the specific mechanic effect changes. I wonder how this idea came to existence?

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

The 1st floor is meant to be cleared in a short time, so when you play the 1st floor again after the raid was opened to the public for 2 or 3 weeks, I think you’ll find it surprising at how little you remember.

You may not have wiped a lot to it, and conversely, there are times where you don’t really remember the mechanics. So when that happens, you would usually go “Eh, what’s the effect of this action again?” if the action names ended up the same as the others. (laughs)

I think you’ll understand once you pay attention to this, but there are cases where you would unexpectedly forget about things here, so I felt that there is a need to create a mechanic that takes advantage of that gap in your mind.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So you’re not allowing the content to be a routine, even for the 1st floor.

Also, then the HP percent damage inflicted was a little painful as well, so I wonder if that is related as well?

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

It is slightly related, but more than that it’s the presentation more than anything.

When it comes to gravity related magic in FF series, it’s about how it does HP percent damage, and that’s the standard. We have previous examples seen in FFXIV as well, where we see Exdeath using Black Hole on the 4th floor of Omega: Deltascape. That too is actually HP percent damage due to the gravity effect it emitted.

In the same way, Eden’s Gravity and Dimensional Shift were made as HP percent damage. So the reason behind those moves having high damage is to ensure players at the 1st floor will not let their guard down and ensure they take this point in mind. (laughs)

E1S: Dimensional Shift
E1S: Dimensional Shift

Since the damage is a percentage of HP, any mitigation will not work. So you’ll want to make sure your HP is back up or put up a barrier.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

When I was playing the 1st floor after the stage was opened to the public, the cast times made me think “Ah, looks like I’m gonna die if this goes on…”, and that gave me a realisation. Even an emergency Addle won’t help things. (laughs)

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

For the Battle System team, their aim was to make the healers aware about it. Since healer potency in Shadowbringers has been kept under control overall, we intentionally made the fractional damage to be really high in potency, and that was what we aimed for.

The Cycle Mechanic That Is Linked To Its Concept Was Meant To Be Extremely Difficult At First.

E2S: Voidwalker
E2S: Voidwalker
Famitsu
Famitsu

Next we will move on to the 2nd floor.

Would you tell us the concept behind it?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

There are many cases where I started writing and summarised the concept in just one or two lines when I wrote the plan. From there, “A mysterious girl who is well versed in sword and magic. She controls the power of Darkness freely.” was what I wrote when I looked back at the proposal for the 2nd floor.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Would you like to look into that one more time to confirm the statement made above?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Nope, I think it’s fine. (laughs)

It’s just a concept full of imagination.

Everyone laughs

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

It feels as if it’s somewhat complicated though. (laughs)

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Basically, I don’t usually take charge of content, but considering we faced some schedule risks when working on the 2nd floor, I took charge of working on this floor.

Even so, I only had about a week to work on the plan, so I decided on this concept since the start and had the Lore Setting and Scenario team to work on the priestess setting, and from there we imagined that the battle would be something like that, which we managed to flesh out the details and shaped the battle to what we see today.

Famitsu
Famitsu

And that symbolic thing would be the “Delayed Spells”, I take it?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Yes, that’s right.

The specifics itself were created based on what’s already there, the presentation however was new. Since the Priestess of Darkness is the key character for this scenario and beyond, the skills she uses, in other words the content of the mechanics, were intended to be made unique here, so the result was the Delayed Spell.

Famitsu
Famitsu

It was an interesting presentation there for sure. Once the timing of Delay Spell is perfectly captured there’s no way players will get misled by it, but I do think there were many players that got confused when the raid was newly released.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

I have the impression that it was made according to how I wanted it exactly.

Actually, when I started working on the planning for 2nd floor, the plan for 3rd floor and 4th floor were not done at that time, so there was a need to think of mechanics where the difficulty can be easily adjusted when needed.

The specifics of the Delayed Spell mechanic was made to be easily ramped up or toned down in difficulty. That was the objective we aimed for with this mechanic. We did not insert any random elements for the 2nd floor this time, but I do think if this was made the third or 4th floor we would have made the timeline completely randomised.

Famitsu
Famitsu

If the duration was made random, the difficulty would see a sharp increase due to how players will need to sort out the activation order in their head…

Oh, and when it comes to the 2nd floor, the next would be the Cycle mechanic that appeared during the latter half of the battle?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Since the concept behind this boss is about a mysterious girl who is well versed in both sword skills and magic, it connects to the void setting where she would use her sword to slice open a dimension, and the void demons would appear from the dimension that was sliced open.

This setting was already decided upon since the beginning. Basically, she uses sword techniques, and she utilises that basic sword technique at a continuous, rapid rate, which flares up the last part of the battle. This resulted in the Cycle mechanics that you see today.

E2S: Renzokuken (Cycles)
E2S: Renzokuken (Cycles)

In the second half of the battle, the biggest obstacle is the cycle sequence. If the party has enouguh DPS, it is possible to defeat the boss before sequential cycles are unleashed.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

I still get nervous when playing that battle in the public world. (laughs)

Famitsu
Famitsu

It was narrow, and hard to avoid. (laughs)

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Initially, touching those devils would inflict 100 thousand damage to your character… (laughs)

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

Furthermore, the devils wouldn’t disappear after reaching the center of the arena, but would instead continue moving forward to the edge of the area while intersecting each other.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

The amount of devils shown on screen would have been more than what is available currently. You would even think that it’s a danmaku (tl note: bullet hell) shooting game instead. (laughs)

Famitsu
Famitsu

So I take that the specifics we have now is due to kindness? (laughs)

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

That’s right. (laughs)

While there are comments about how Cycle of Chaos was a much harder mechanic to resolve compared to Cycle of Retribution, I still had it pushed through.

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

It’s why you created a grace period before entering the Cycles phase to revive the players who were knocked down earlier so that everyone could try together.

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

Initially it was really difficult back then. (laughs)

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

Each phase was made to be especially quick in tempo, to the point there wasn’t any time for players to even resurrect. (laughs)

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

For the Omega raids, there were many instances where mechanics tend to repeat after a rotation, and players especially the foreign ones would send us feedback pointing out that they wanted new mechanics instead of repeating the same thing again, therefore the Cycle mechanics were created to answer that feedback we received.

The Secret Behind Stormy Horizon

E3S: Leviathan
E3S: Leviathan
Famitsu
Famitsu

Next we’ll be talking about the 3rd floor.

Please tell us the concept behind it.

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima

The concept for Leviathan here was to “Create a dynamic battle that utilises the most of its massive physique”.

As a sub-concept, I also thought of “How it would inundate like a Leviathan would”.

Famitsu
Famitsu

On the 3rd and 4th floor, the enemies share the same name as Leviathan and Titan, which already appeared previous on the Source (A Realm Reborn), yet at the same time their visual outlook and attack methods were created to differ from their Source counterpart, which I thought it brought some unique difficulty here…

A Realm Reborn's Leviathan
A Realm Reborn's Leviathan

Leviathan as seen in the Source. Leviathan as seen on the First is based on the memories of Warrior of Light.

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima

Yes. it was especially difficult to create a difference between Leviathan from the Source and the one on the First. Furthermore it was necessary to bring out the same impact as the one seen on the Source, so I struggled a lot with it.

After several twists and turns, we ended up with the current form seen today, but the point is that there are some mechanisms that bear similarities to the Leviathan from the Source.

For example, the aspect where Leviathan would disappear from the player’s sight and charge in from the outer field. The “Tidal Wave” is also created based on the Leviathan’s intermission move seen in the Source, and we’ve incorporated and applied them in a way it causes various water phenomena to the player.

By the way, there was also a story where we attempted to have Leviathan’s water area of effect attack fall from above the player’s head at the same time as Leviathan performed its charge attack, just like how Leviathan from the Source would do but we were told “I don’t think this can be resolved”, so we stopped using the idea. (laughs)

Famitsu
Famitsu

Who was the one pointing it out?

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima

That would be Yokozawa. (tl note: Aka Mr Atma who designed UWU and much more)

Daisuke Nakagawa
Daisuke Nakagawa

I know this sounds like Yokozawa is taking the blame for this, but everyone was saying it. (laughs)

That it was too difficult.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Nowadays, it’s just a circular floor that inflicts Heavy, that’s about it.

Takashi Kawamoto
Takashi Kawamoto

That one didn’t just inflict Heavy but also DoT (Damage Over Time) as well, so that phase was initially really dangerous.

Famitsu
Famitsu

To think that phase was that dangerous. (laughs)

By the way, how did your team decide on the visual design of Leviathan?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

When we worked on the direction, I suggested that we would want to insert elements that differentiate the Leviathan seen on the First and the Leviathan that exists on the Source, and we summarise our discussion as having Leviathan designed with two heads, and from there we proceeded to let Nabeshima work on the battle.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So you would take on the twin head design, and then think of the skills it would unleash from there.

E3S: Leviathan With Two Heads
E3S: Leviathan With Two Heads

The Leviathan on the First sports two heads as its design feature.

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima

That’s right. There were times where the artists worked on the gimmick we wanted to incorporate.

For example, if you look closely at Leviathan’s body, you can see its eyes shine yellow, and it was supposed to shoot lasers initially. The idea was ultimately scrapped, the yellow eyes, however, remained.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Having the field collapse dramatically for the 3rd floor was really impactful.

Was this thought up from the beginning?

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabeshima

Actually, the idea was thought up during the final phase of the planning.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Eh, is that so!?

Yoshito Nabeshima
Yoshito Nabesh