Famitsu: How Eden's Verse Was Made! (1/2)

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

This is how Eden:Verse Was Made!
An Interview With the Developers (Part 1)

Source Article

『FF14』希望の園エデン:共鳴編はこうして作られた! 開発者インタビュー(前編)

Famitsu Article Staff

Famitsu
Famitsu

The 2nd interview project that casts the spotlight on Final Fantasy XIV (mentioned below as “FFXIV”) high level difficulty raids! This time we’ll be delivering to you the interview with the developers of the game, specifically on Eden’s Verse chapter!

This project’s objective and its description remained the same as the previous ones we did, where the theme of this project covers the 3rd expansion of the game, Shadowbringers, and this time we will cover the 2nd tier of the raid series named “Eden”, called the Eden’s Verse. Like before, we are joined with 5 of the developers who worked on the raid, and interviewed them on each of their roles in the content, and dive deeper into each of the floors made, as well as cover topics that the players are interested in. This interview will be split into 2 parts. However, this interview will contain many spoilers, so please be warned before reading further.

FFXIV Eden’s Verse! Developer’s Interview (Part 1)

As well, the names of the 5 developers who are involved in this project are listed in our previous interviews as well. We hope you’ll find yourself having fun with the list even more if you’re a WoL (Warriors of Light, a moniker used to refer FFXIV players)!

Famitsu
Famitsu

Masaki Nakagawa

Lead Battle Content Designer.

Assigned to work as a planner on Eden’s Verse 1st floor (known in the community as E5). Abbreviated as Nakagawa for this interview.

Banri Takahashi

Battle Content Designer.

Assigned to work as an implementer and adjuster for Eden’s Verse 1st floor (known in the community as E5). Abbreviated as Takahashi for this interview.

Masatoshi Ishikawa

Battle Content Designer.

Assigned to work on Eden’s Verse 2nd Floor. Abbreviated as Ishikawa for this interview

Kazuto Yoshihashi

Battle Content Designer.

Assigned to work on Eden’s Verse 3rd Floor. Abbreviated as Yoshihashi for this interview

Hikaru Tamaki

Battle Content Designer.

Assigned to work on Eden’s Verse 4th Floor. Abbreviated as Tamaki for this interview

Famitsu
Famitsu

A drastic change of lineup from Eden’s Gate!
A mixed team of youths and veterans.

We see once again the appearance of Nakagawa-san as the lead battle content design after the previous tier. We have heard of your policies and stance on creating content and your history from you in the previous interview, so I’d take that if they want to know more they will want to refer to the previous interviews…

Come to think about it, the discussion on just the content creation policy itself already took roughly 2 hours to go through as you mentioned before, do you think you’ve talked enough about this?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

No, I think I’m done with this (laughs).

Famitsu
Famitsu

Alright, understood (laughs).

Now, we would want to hear from you, Takahashi-san, on how the 1st floor of Eden’s Verse came to be.

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

It was around October 2018 where I joined the company during that period, some point after patch 4.4 of the 2nd FFXIV expansion “Stormblood” was released to the public.

I’ve been a fan of FFXIV’s raid battles before I joined the company and I was assigned to work on the monster division of the game after joining.

Since then I started working as a planner on Notorious Monsters for “The Forbidden Land of Eureka: Hydatos” chapter, and gradually moved to work on YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse (the crossover 24-man Alliance Raid content originated from the NieR series), specifically on the 1st boss (Serial Jointed Command Model) of the The Copied Factory, and the final boss of The Puppet’s Bunker (The Compound).

Famitsu
Famitsu

I understand that you’re fond of FFXIV’s raid battles, but I’d like to know how long have you been playing this game?

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

It was shortly after the release of “A Realm Reborn”, I’d say. What made me start playing the game was an invitation from a senior of my previous company, after that I found the game to be so interesting that I neglected my job as a result (laughs).

I still find myself loving the game so much that my life is about working on FFXIV and playing FFXIV even after I reach home.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I’d take it that Takahashi-san is what we’d call a hardcore raider, before joining the company, did you feel that “It would be more interesting if I did all the adjustments instead”?

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

That’s right, I joined this company with that enthusiasm in mind, but it was crushed immediately (laughs bitterly).

Famitsu
Famitsu

This is something we frequently hear amongst FFXIV’s dev team (laughs).

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

He has a great passion and is the type to work his hardest on everything. This is why I pay a lot of attention to him.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So what is the thing that Takahash-san, who has such great love and passion for FFXIV, finds the most important when working on content?

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

Initially I took “the base of the content is the mechanic” as my stance and planned my content around mechanics as the priority. But eventually I realised that forming plans like that was not really a good way of doing things, and throughout I received advice from both Nakagawa-san and the other Nakagawa (Daisuke Nakagawa, battle content designer of Eden’s Gate 4th floor and The Epic of Alexander).

From here what I’ve been told the most would be “creating a plan that is firmly based on matching the lore of the boss”. By simply just implementing mechanics or skills that doesn’t match the story background, the player immersion would decrease and it won’t be possible to create a fascinating boss. So from there I started taking that advice into mind.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I take it that’s actually a shift from ideas of a gamer to perspective of a developer. Moving on, we’d like to have Ishikawa-san, who was the designer of the 2nd floor of Eden’s Verse to introduce himself. Ishikawa-san, if you please.

Masatoshi Ishikawa
Masatoshi Ishikawa

I entered this company in January 2004, and entered the development team for FFXI. Since FFXIV was developed by many members who came from the FFXI team, and during 2009 April, we were then added into the development team before the old FFXIV was released.

From there on, the team underwent changes after the launch of old FFXIV and Yoshida (refers to Naoki Yoshida) took the position of producer and director. We then co-currently began developing “A Realm Reborn”, along with experiencing various stuff since then.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So you were at the heart of “An end of the era”…

Masatoshi Ishikawa
Masatoshi Ishikawa

There was so much back and forth since I joined the FFXIV development team, but the first time I was actually assigned to create a boss would be around May of 2016. At that time it should be around the end of the Heavensward expansion. I then joined as a forefront developer as Stormblood required more members, and created the Susano trial for Stormblood as well as Phantom Train and Midgardsormr for “The Bend of Time - Omega” raid.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So Ishikawa-san joined this company in 2004, I assume that he’s the eldest among the group here?

Masatoshi Ishikawa
Masatoshi Ishikawa

That is right. I’ve actually been here in this company longer than Nakagawa.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Looking at the content that you were involved in up till now, it seems that you were involved in many bosses that are memorable and impactful. And among them, the recent modifications to “Coincounter”!

Masatoshi Ishikawa
Masatoshi Ishikawa

On that one, it was a monster that was planned during the old FFXIV phase, but we don’t touch on the subject when it comes to recent adjustments. But I am deeply moved when I see “100 Tonne Swing” is still in use today (laughs).

image/svg+xml

The “100 Tonne Swing” is one of the skills used by Coincounter. It is a circular range attack centered on the enemy itself, but since the predictive attack range indicator was not displayed, many WoLs who are still new would fall prey to that mechanic and wipe as the result. Since then it has been adjusted, and the indicator is now shown to alert the players about the attack.

Famitsu
Famitsu

It’s almost been 10 years, hasn’t it…

Ishikawa-san, please tell us about the things you consider important when creating content.

Masatoshi Ishikawa
Masatoshi Ishikawa

I emphasise on “the heart of providing hospitality” when I work on content. Since I’m a player myself, I have that feeling of treating other players as my comrades as well. So I’d want other players to feel the same as what I felt exactly, and when the players managed to solve the mechanics, they’d feel accomplished and happy. That’s what I have in mind when creating content.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Alright, next we will have Yoshihashi-san who worked on the 3rd floor of Eden’s Verse. If you please.

Kazuto Yoshihashi
Kazuto Yoshihashi

I joined in December 2018, and I am one of the juniors among the group. I joined the balance adjustment team for patch 4.5 of Stormblood and remember that pungent feel very well where I had to catch up with the members around me during the final adjustment phase.

At that time, the development for Shadowbringers started to enter crunch phase and I had to read a large amount of information and scenario plots that were not meant to be publicised at that time, along with learning and absorbing knowledge on how the game I’m involved in will become in the future. Those were the things I had to learn for the first month after entering the company.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So Yoshihashi-san you joined the company mid-career?

Kazuto Yoshihashi
Kazuto Yoshihashi

That’s right. I was involved in game development as well before I joined this company. It was an MMORPG developed for smartphone use. At that time I’ve been thinking of wanting to get involved in development for PC MMORPGs, and because of my age I was thinking of elevating my status and considering how it’s not common for me to get the chance of changing jobs, I applied to become a developer for FFXIV with “all or nothing” in mind, and then I got accepted.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I frequently heard of the phrase “I got accepted” during our interview on Eden’s Gate (laughs).

I take that you applied as a developer for FFXIV because you’re a player as well?

Kazuto Yoshihashi
Kazuto Yoshihashi

That’s right. I’ve been playing the game since the legacy version of FFXIV, and since it’s a numbered title of the Final Fantasy series, I tend to dream of being involved…as a game creator that is.

In reality, I thought I may not have enough personal experiences, but I braved myself to try applying for the position….well that was the feeling I had at that time (laughs).

Famitsu
Famitsu

Did you go for the Battle Content position when applying for the job?

Kazuto Yoshihashi
Kazuto Yoshihashi

I was involved in developing boss battles as well as high difficulty raids for MMORPGs in my previous job as well. While I do think MMORPGs can vary in terms of how they are played, it was down to my confidence in battle content creation and how it is one of the aspects where I can do my best that made me try applying.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Rather than saying that you had passed your application, it feels that you were motivated to enter just to join (laughs).

I’d like to know the things you hold dear when creating content.

Kazuto Yoshihashi
Kazuto Yoshihashi

I share the same reasons with Ishikawa here, where I hold dear in providing hospitality for players, so that the players can enjoy the content we make.

For example, even when the party wipes, maybe they’d start to realise “Ah, maybe that one was due to that”, and then they’d take that realisation in mind and start formulating a solution around it, thinking back on the past content, and predicting the mechanics by thinking, “so this is probably how we go around that”, and once they manage to solve the mechanics, they’ll feel really good about it. Those are the things I plan to take into mind whenever I make content.

Famitsu
Famitsu

“Hospitality”, eh…? It feels like this keyword is unbecoming for Savage difficulty content (laughs), but it is understandable that you can feel the whole “ease of understanding” aspects in this high difficulty content.

So moving on, we would like Tamaki-san, who worked on the 4th floor of Eden’s Verse to introduce himself. Tamaki-san, if you please.

Hikaru Tamaki
Hikaru Tamaki

I entered in September 2013. It was after 4 days after “A Realm Reborn” officially entered operational status. I had been a player since the legacy version of FFXIV, and cleared the 1st floor of The Binding Coil of Bahamut.

I got assigned to the battle system team right after entering the company and once I had the chance of meeting the team, I was asked “What’s your impression after playing it?”, or “Isn’t Warrior weak?”. Then I was given my first task with the order “If that’s the case, then give it a thought on what you would do to make Warrior stronger”, that’s how it all began.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

That sure brought back memories…

Since then Tamaki has been involved and worked on jobs and PvP systems, as well as many other finer details of the game as a member of the battle system. At the same time, he also helped out the battle content aspects as well.

Although the adjustments are usually done through gathering our staff members from the battle system and monster division and have them test play while performing adjustments at the same time, Tamaki-san has since been continuously participate in adjustments in our team since patch 2.1, and worked on overall adjustments for dungeons, trials, raids and Ultimate series, as well as being involved in play testing.

Famitsu
Famitsu

You had been assigned to work on battle content since patch 2.1 despite not having your name openly known until now, I see. So please tell us what are the things you think are important when creating content.

Hikaru Tamaki
Hikaru Tamaki

The content that I’ve made and the content other people have made tend to contain different points of view, and there exists the mindset of “it’s better to fix this” when it comes to content created by others while on the other hand, “it’s made by me so it’s fine” tends to happen when it comes to self created content, and this will end up me overlooking other aspects as a result.

In order to not let that happen, I made sure to always carry the perspective of “viewing through the perspective of an outsider, as a player” whenever I create content. But even so it’s still possible for me to miss out on other details so I always do my best to look through and reflect on myself whenever I try playing the content I made after it’s released, as well as looking at the player’s response saying “how it would be nice if they do this on that part”. These are the things I make sure I’m aware of and will always apply them for future tasks.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I really do think it’s a good thing that the developers do play on public servers privately. Now then, since we have had all the developers introduce themselves, we really did see a big change in the lineup since Eden’s Gate. I would like to know what triggered such change.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

First of all, we had already decided to have both Takahashi and Yoshihashi to work on Eden’s Verse floors since the beginning. The major reason for that is due to how they both contributed hugely to the development of Shadowbringers for Patch 5.0 and 5.1. In particular the work that Takahashi did for the 1st boss of the Copied Factory, as well as Yoshihashi’s work on the 2nd boss of the Copied Factory has shown quite a considerable response since the early development stage.

There was an atmosphere, battles, and mechanics not seen before in FFXIV, and it was very interesting. Their capability and talent became apparent to us and I thought they shouldn’t just be working on alliance raids but also on high difficulty content as well.

Although creators will tend to show their habits whenever they work on content creation, I thought of trying to change the impression of raids and take up the structure of having those passionate and talented young developers to work on them with the supervision and support from the veterans. At that time we haven’t decided on which floors would they exactly work on, but that’s the story behind the decision.

Famitsu
Famitsu

While their names weren’t mentioned in the previous interviews, you did mention that the new staff members worked on the alliance raid. So it was the both of them.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Actually, for the Copied Factory, we received a lot of positive feedback right after we released them to the public. We do receive many players saying it’s their best 24 man raid ever, so I do think their contributions were a major factor to this.

Famitsu
Famitsu

For the 1st and 3rd floor of Eden’s Verse, we know that Takahashi-san and Yoshihashi-san were among the new blood selected for this task, but we had Ishikawa-san, the veteran, also work on this. May I know the reason behind the selection?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

The reason was very simple, it was because both Ifrit and Garuda were involved in this floor. Formulating a plan around fighting the 2 bosses simultaneously were definitely not an easy thing to imagine for everyone. So we thought of having a veteran to be involved in this. That’s why we selected Ishikawa for this task.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So it was due to experience being necessary. And then, we had Tamaki-san from the Battle System team to work on the 4th floor. Now what was the reason behind the choice?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Actually we initially wanted Daisuke Nakagawa to work on the 4th floor. However there was a period where we had to simultaneously work on Eden’s Verse 4th floor for patch 5.2 as well as developing and balancing Ultimate Alexander for patch 5.1 at the same time.

Working on Ultimate series content is highly taxing and stressful, and we of course have to work on the 4th floor, which is a battle with complex mechanics. Therefore to achieve that, we had Daisuke Nakagawa focus on Ultimate Alexander while requesting help from the battle system team to work on the 4th floor.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Recalling the stories from Yoshida-san and Nakagawa-san, we can imagine that it made a certain amount of sense for an outstanding developer to be in charge of the 4th floor, but so far Tamaki-san only worked on one high difficulty content so far, yes? We’d like to know the reason behind the selection as well.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

First of all, balance adjustments for battle content would require the monster team to implement the battle content and adjust its details from there, and ultimately have the battle system team to test them out, while performing adjustments at the same time to ensure everything is done right.

Tamaki has been involved in content adjustments for a long time and while he did not produce that much content, he is a veteran who saw through various particular adjustments for contents. Furthermore, when Tamaki worked on Chaos (the 1st boss for Omega: The Bend of Time - Alphascape), even though he worked on the content based on the explanation we gave earlier, it was due to his adjustment work on Chaos that we managed to get it completed without much issues nor did it require us to do much play testing. In other words, he managed to deliver a near completed work before we even entered the adjustment stage. It was then that we know how capable Tamaki is and thus it became the reason why we had him work on the 4th floor.

Famitsu
Famitsu

The mock Primals that often combine.
However, the concept came from a different place.

The boss characters for Eden’s Verse did deliver quite an amount of impression where it involved the combination of 2 elements. How did these things come about?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

I wasn’t particularly conscious of the whole combinining and merging aspects so it wasn’t really done deliberately.

First of all, when deciding on the boss characters for Eden’s Verse, it was decided that the scenario flow would involve Thunder, Fire, Wind and Ice, and that became the requirement. It then became straightforward that this would mean assigning Ramuh, Ifrit, Garuda and Shiva evenly on each floor. This was kind of an expected development so there wasn’t much of a surprise there. Therefore, we had to come out with an idea on how to deliver the surprise factor.

Famitsu
Famitsu

The part where Ramuh combined with Ixion on the 1st floor left quite an impact (laughs).

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Regarding the mock Thunder Primal, it was decided quite early in the phase.

We received an interesting idea from Oda (Banri Oda, Lore Setting and Main Scenario Writer) where he thought, “wouldn’t it be interesting to have Ramuh combined with Ixion?” and when we heard that, we thought we could actually create interesting content with this idea and actually create a difference between this Ramuh and the Ramuh from the Source, so we immediately decided to take on this idea, and made our order on the artwork.

Famitsu
Famitsu

And then we have the battle with 2 mock Primals on the 2nd floor. The one where 2 elements made its appearance!

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Even the aspects of Fire and Wind on the 2nd floor were decided without much issue. As I mentioned earlier, just having Ifrit and Garuda to be placed on each floor would just make it predictable and devoid of any surprise factor. Which is why we made the battle to have players fight both Ifrit and Garuda simultaneously because of that possibility.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So what’s left would be Ice, which the battle would cover Shiva on the 4th floor.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

It was decided from the start that we wanted to feature ice as the element for the 4th floor. However, to just fought Shiva herself would end up underwhelming, and we felt that a strong impact would be necessary so we came up with ideas and at the same time looked into the lore settings and found out the element about Shiva being summoned using their own being in the Source, so we want to bring that element to the First as well.

We then moved forward while trying to figure out who should be the one to perform that summoning, and we thought of an idea where we’d be able to deliver the surprise factor if Ryne were to be the one who performs the summoning instead, so our idea went forward and settled with the flow where Ryne would be the one to perform the summoning ritual.

Famitsu
Famitsu

It was memorable to have Shiva’s form change during the battle as well.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

This is because I wanted to make it something where the whole picture could be enjoyed.

In the Source, we have Shiva who can change weapons by using a sword, staff and bow, yes? We took that idea as a base and worked with Daisuke Nakagawa together to come up with various ideas, and ended up consolidating the idea of Shiva changing attires instead. After fleshing out the details further, the result was to come out with the theme of “dress change” and create Shiva while integrating “Ice”, “Light”, and “Dragon” aspects onto the dress.

Actually we got the hint to that idea from “FFX-2” regarding the dress change and in order to express our desire to create that idea to the artists, we used the opening video of FFX-2 where Yuna is shown singing with dress change segment to demonstrate our idea during our presentation.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So what’s left would be the Idol of Darkness on the 3rd floor, how did you all end up with the idea and how the boss was created?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Regarding the Idol of Darkness on the 3rd floor, since it revolves around the setting and scenario so we cannot really divulge too much about it right now (laughs bitterly).

We would like you to imagine and think of who the Idol of Darkness actually is once you get to Eden’s Promise and play it to the end. By the way, similar to our explanation on other floors, we never really paid that much awareness into the whole combination element.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Regarding the 4th floor, there was this impression where either the story or the battle gets decided first since both of them tend to intertwine deeply. Perhaps you could give us some insight on that.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

The assigned scenario writer Oda, Daisuke Nakagawa and I met up and exchanged our ideas various times during the character art ordering phase. It was during that time as well where the 4 of us brainstormed and finally settled with the idea of having Ryne to perform the summoning.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Was the idea for the last scene where Gaia came in to help during the normal difficulty was decided during that time as well?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

After the scenario and plot was done, Daisuke Nakagawa and I first read through it and understood what the Scenario team was trying to do and achieve. The content of the scenario requested us to focus on both Ryne and Gaia, which are the Oracle of Light and the Oracle of Darkness respectively in this case. From there on, we thought of having both characters becoming the focus by putting in that final scene in order to end the battle nicely, as well as to make the scenario a lot more exciting.

We also thought of utilising the delay spell which is one of Gaia’s trademark, and the hammer shown in the artwork drawn by Tetsuya Nomura-san since we have been wanting to use that setting for a while. So we had Daisuke Nakagawa to create the battle scenario draft, and presented that to the scenario team after, and that was what happened.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Eden’s Verse is considered the 2nd season to the Eden series raid, so was the difficulty of the raid set to be a lot more difficult than Eden’s Gate?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

The difficulty for raids like Eden’s Gate are deliberately controlled considering it’s the raid that was implemented right after the release of an expansion pack. Our overall direction is to make the difficulty to be on the same level as Alexander Creator, which is the same answer we gave in our previous interview.

Furthermore, since the raid series will go up to the 3rd tier, while we do have the direction of trying to gradually increase the difficulty as we progress, we also got a lot of feedback saying how Eden’s Gate was “easy”, or “we want it to be tougher”. So in order to answer that feedback, we’ve made Eden’s Verse to be relatively a difficulty that brings challenges, in particular on the 4th floor, which we have adjusted the level to be really hard.

Famitsu
Famitsu

By the way, in the previous interview, you had told us that among the two difficulties (Normal mode and Savage mode), a lot of them were made starting from Normal mode first, I’d like to ask everyone here on which difficulty did you start on when making this raid?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

On the 1st floor, we couldn’t afford to risk the schedule here so I wrote the planning for the 1st floor, and had Takahashi take over and implement them, and that was the flow during that time.

Since such cases tend to occur for about one piece of content per patch, the leader will tend to create the plan when all the staff members are busy with their tasks, and have the other staff members assigned to work on the implementation and adjustments.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So that means the plan for the 1st floor itself was done by Nakagawa-san, correct? Similarly to Eden’s Gate, I take that having to create from normal mode would guarantee the interesting aspect of the content, am I right?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

That’s correct. The planning for the 1st floor was created from Normal difficulty.