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

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

Eden's Verse Designers

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa Battle Content Director | JP | Square Enix
Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi Battle Content | JP | Square Enix
Masatoshi Ishikawa
Masatoshi Ishikawa Battle Content | JP | Square Enix
Kazuto Yoshihashi
Kazuto Yoshihashi Battle Content | JP | Square Enix
Hikaru Tamaki
Hikaru Tamaki Battle Content | JP | Square Enix
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

The Raiden (Bird) In The Development Phase Was Even More Violent!?

E5S: Ramuh
E5S: Ramuh
Famitsu
Famitsu

So, let’s begin by hearing the details of each floor from everyone here.

We’ll start with Ramuh from the first floor, so I’d like to know the concept behind it.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

As we talked about last time, the concept of creating content is summarised in one or two lines. I checked the proposal just now, and this time, too, it says “We will use amazing thunderstorms and amazing charges” in just one line. What a vocabulary there if I say so myself… (laughs).

Famitsu
Famitsu

When I actually played it, it was indeed true to that statement (laughs).

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

All the mechanics do indeed have either lightning or charges throughout the battle.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Where did you get the idea of charging?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

I decided to use a charge because of the way it looks. Initially I was looking at him as a Centaur from the beginning so I thought he’d have the tendency to charge on his enemies.

When I come up with an idea, I ask people for help, often asking Sudo for advice (Kenji Sudo, the famous content designer who bears the reputation of destroying many Warriors of Light with his designs). Sudo, too, would immediately answer “Charging it is!”.

I was slightly worried that having to charge at players with that kind of outlook would be a little too plain and simple, but since Sudo said the same thing so I thought, “Well that’s fine then” (laughs).

Famitsu
Famitsu

If Sudo says so then it should be fine (laughs).

So, I take it that “lighting” and “charging” would be the 2 aspects you kept in mind when creating the plan?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

To tell you the truth, there’s one more thing. When we formulated Eden’s Verse bosses, I told everyone that I wanted to insert “good old-fashioned raid mechanics” into this tier.

While I hold the thought of trying to change the play feel from Eden’s Gate, the concept also includes arranging the mechanics from A Realm Reborn that hasn’t seen much use and try implement them with today’s style/context.

This would be “Chain Lightning”, as well as the “Raiden” (bird) mechanic where everyone has to do their best to escape it. Initially I was reluctant to have that mechanic to be included in a battle as early as the first floor, but in the end I decided to have it included. I hold that thought to avoid boring players with the same style of mechanics all the time.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So Takahashi-san would then receive the plan and the intention from you and proceed to implement the content from there, yes?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Yes. Takahashi managed to grasp my intention very well, didn’t he?

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

By the way, “Stand Firm” was not originally included in Nakagawa’s written proposal.

E5S: Stand Firm
E5S: Stand Firm

The charge attack that the boss uses immediately after Fury’s Fourteen (in JP: Fourteen Chargebolt) requires the tanks to use the Duty Action “Stand Firm”. Failure to do so by anyone within the 8-man party would be knocked off into a wipe, which contributes to the intense mood of the battle.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So this means the duty action was an addition by Takahashi-san.

What was the reason behind the implementation of Duty Action “Stand Firm”?

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

The “Stand Firm” Duty Action that was used during the Fury’s Fourteen phase would require you to break the 7 stratospears as the solution of that mechanic.

When it was first implemented, the Main Tank (abbreviated as MT) was the only one that was left without a role to play and that turned out to be a huge problem. I felt that as a player, it would feel a lot better to create a situation where everyone worked together to solve a mechanic, which in this case is what is known as “jump rope”. So I wanted everyone to experience the whole situation where all 8 would go through that situation.

With that thought in mind, comes the process in adding the “Stand Firm” duty action.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So, you gave tanks a special role.

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

Yes. Considering that the role of tanks these days is all about tank swaps, I felt it was dull compared to other job roles.

With that in mind, my intention was to have tanks experience something different by role-playing a situation where they stand firm for themselves in order to protect everyone.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Did Nakagawa think of the idea of having up to 7 lances snapped into half through Fury’s Fourteen?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Yes, that’s right. The idea of Fury’s Fourteen was mine. In the proposal I had written about the layout of the 14 stratospears and how the 7 party members would stand up and break the spears, then passed it on to Takahashi.

Takahashi took it and proceeded to explain the process to the programmers assigned and went through the implementation process. That’s when he noticed the problem where only one played had nothing to do, and from there, he suggested “Stand Firm” as a solution.

Since he managed to properly convey the interesting aspect of having 8 players somehow going through Ramuh’s most powerful killing blow, Fury’s Fourteen, so I approved the idea.

Famitsu
Famitsu

While it depends on the party, apparently having Off Tanks (OT) dealing with that segment is the popular strategy.

What do you think of this situation when you look at it?

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

I was surprised actually (laughs).

I think it was due to defensive cooldowns that the OT became the more suitable candidate for this mechanic. Since it was an all out charge attack that Ramuh did with all his might, the potency for that attack was adjusted to be extremely powerful because of it.

To be honest, I wanted the MT to be the one to stand in the front end of the line, but I admit that did not think through the MT’s defensive cooldowns, which is something I regret.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I played it as a tank, and I was surprised at how powerful it was.

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

I wanted the players to get past them while having a sense of unity, like with healers putting up barriers for you.

Famitsu
Famitsu

The next thing would be the separate summoned entity Raiden, was that idea from Nakagawa as well?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

That’s right. I purposely had the mechanic included as a reason to give the OTs something to do.

Famitsu
Famitsu

For that part it feels like OT was indeed playing a different game altogether (laughs).

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

On the topic of OTs, I had the impression that they have much less to handle compared to the MT, and I received a lot of feedback about it.

So in order to address that feedback, I designed it so that OTs will have a job they need to do well, and to ensure that the OT players felt a sense a accomplishment of “I cleared by contributing something to my team”.

However, for the part where only OTs couldn’t handle the mechanic and comfortably continue to maintain uptime, I thought there might have been a better way.

I’m going to reflect on this and make the most of it in the future.

Famitsu
Famitsu

You’ll be far away from it, but before you know it, it’ll be close to you, and if it touches you, you’ll be instantly killed.

The strong attack “Shock Blast” feels painful without using any defensive cooldowns. So taking them into consideration, the first floor does feel tough.

E5S: Raiden
E5S: Raiden

Raiden was said to be the strongest on the first floor. This creature tethers to the player with the most Surge Protection stacks and will attack the player regularly.

Furthermore, Raiden is a nasty enemy that will gradually go closer to the player and once the distance between the tethered player and Raiden become too close it’ll instantly knock the player out.

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

Actually… it was much harder initially.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Ehh, what were the specifications?

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

Raiden was initially conceived as a bird who likes to consume lightning aether and during the beginning of the development phase, Raiden would actually consume the thunder orbs around the arena.

In other words, the thunder orb that was meant for self protection was consumed by that creature when touched, so you had to actually lure the creature around the arena and not have it consume the thunder orbs at the same time…

Furthermore, in case the player touches Raiden, the Surge Protection status you got from touching the orbs will be consumed by the creature as well.

Therefore, it was a really fearsome mechanic, not to mention the thunder orbs while guiding him neatly to avoid hitting other players. (laughs bitterly).

Famitsu
Famitsu

Whew! Even now, Raiden and Thunderstorm appearing at the same time makes me feel quite flustered (laughs).

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

As expected, the first specification was too much of a killjoy.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I take that you made it milder.

Also, during the interview on Eden’s Gate, you mentioned that the team had to tune the difficulty and control themselves so that the first floor can be cleared by as many players as possible, and at the same time create mechanics that make the players feel the tension as if it pierces their heart.

I had the impression that Fury’s Bolt in Eden’s Verse 1st floor was designed with that in mind, but I want to know how you actually think about this?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

Fury’s Bolt was a mechanic where I designed it using my own preferred method when I was thinking about mechanics: when the boss’ status changes, so will the content of the mechanic and how to solve it. Therefore, I didn’t deliberately include that mechanic with the intention of completely wiping the party.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So that was it.

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

Inevitably, it becomes routine and we’re aware that players going through it each week will definitely get bored of the mechanics eventually.

I think Fury’s Bolt, with its meaning to bring tension to the situation every week, indeed served its purpose well in this case. Fighting without paying any attention nor thinking about anything and you have to pay your full attention to the boss or you’ll fail. With this mechanic, I feel that we managed to achieve a firm design for the first floor.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Make a mistake, and you’ll get knocked out by either a donut-shaped (area of effect attack that is emitted surrounding you) or a “Tatsunoko”-shaped (attack hitbox that is based on your standing position) attack. That’s what makes it a brilliant mechanic.

Also, while this was discussed before, you mentioned that Chain Lightning has the impression of facing “the return of Allagan Rot, the mechanic seen in The Binding Coil of Bahamut”.

I would like to know if you had it implemented deliberately in mind?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

That’s right. It was a good old raid mechanic with a modern twist.

Famitsu
Famitsu

The mechanic starts from having a debuff attached on healers, and then they are required to pass them to other party members around. This mechanic has since prompted a lot of solutions for it. The most used strategy was where ranged DPS and healers moved around while the rest of the party remained still.

Was this the default strategy set in mind?

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

On a certain level it was indeed set that way but I didn’t expect them to have their strategy polished so well. The players are really great when it comes to this.

The method where ranged DPS and healers being the one passing the debuffs around to solve the mechanics really surprised me since I didn’t create the mechanic with that in mind.

During the play test phase, we had the players split into 2 groups of 4, and normally had the players pass the debuffs one by one. That was how we did it.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

But Tamaki here had tried the strategy of only moving the healer. We didn’t want to move the caster, so we came up with a method like “maybe this spot would be the best place to deal with”, along with several other ideas.

Hikaru Tamaki
Hikaru Tamaki

We did try the method where only the healer needed to move around. Wouldn’t that be easier? Whenever I thought about it, I knew I had to try it right away (laughs).

Famitsu
Famitsu

Once a more efficient strategy is devised during play testing, it’ll definitely be prone to adjustments before it’s released to the public, so it’s better to keep things moderate (laughs).

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

I thought having multiple methods devised and submitted on social media in order to flare things up is a nice trend.

Players discussing and debating is one way to get things going in a game. By the way, the initial setup for Chain Lightning was actually much more complicated…

Famitsu
Famitsu

How did that mechanic go initially?

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

The current form that is implemented sees Chain Lighting and AoE attacks coming right at the same time, but initially the mechanic required you to solve Thunderstorm while passing the debuffs, confirm the effects surrounding and dodging Stepped Ladder, all of them at the same time.

However, I thought this was not a very clearable difficulty…

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

When I first looked at it, I wondered if this was the 4th floor? (laughs)

Famitsu
Famitsu

Definitely isn’t the difficulty that befits the first floor (laughs).

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

However, this was also how I intended it to be. It was really hard to adjust on the balance while stacking on the difficulty.

It is not possible to create new motions nor effects in a given period of time. That’s why we make the content very difficult in the planning stage and then shave it off little by little during implementation and adjustment.

Famitsu
Famitsu

I see. I heard a lot about how terrible the initial proposal for the mechanic was, and that was the reason why.

Hikaru Tamaki
Hikaru Tamaki

As for Raiden, wasn’t there quite a bit of discussion during the proposal meeting?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

As I recall, it was the case.

Famitsu
Famitsu

What are the reasons?

Hikaru Tamaki
Hikaru Tamaki

I understand that it is a traditional mechanic, but “traditional” is a fine line between unreasonable and inexcusable, and I wondered if I could actually pull it off and make it workable in today’s context.

Banri Takahashi
Banri Takahashi

Then there’s the problem of being too much of a burden on the OT.

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

I did hold a strong spirit and thirst to take on the challenge despite knowing the fear that comes with it; I wanted to create something new because it’s the end of the world in an MMORPG when you get bored.

Famitsu
Famitsu

As it turns out, that resulted in a mechanic that left quite an impression on many players.

Garuda & Ifrit. The Combined Skills That Shined Bright Throughout The Second Floor

E5S: Garuda & Ifrit
E5S: Garuda & Ifrit
Famitsu
Famitsu

Now let’s move on to the 2nd floor.

First of all, how did the concept come to mind?

Masatoshi Ishikawa
Masatoshi Ishikawa

Can I say a few words before we touch on the concept?

To all Dragoons, I really want to apologise for having created certain scenarios where you couldn’t Jump!

Famitsu
Famitsu

Indeed, there were situations where you get knocked out to death depending on the timing of using Jump …

Also, while this isn’t restricted to only Dragoons, there are so many situations where the players had to move around the field, I heard many screams from the melee DPS where they couldn’t properly do their positionals.

Masatoshi Ishikawa
Masatoshi Ishikawa

I received a lot of feedback that melee DPS had a hard time landing hits.

In case you’re wondering, I checked on that stage using Samurai myself and created the stage based on the calculation of True North’s cooldown time.

If you’re having issues over not being able to do positionals, I would appreciate it if you can do your best with True North…

Famitsu
Famitsu

I see. So, let’s get back on track and move into the concept part.

Masatoshi Ishikawa
Masatoshi Ishikawa

The concept for the 2nd floor is simply “wind and fire combined”.

When I reviewed the proposal, I wrote the concept while at the same time including terms like “Kinniku Buster + Kinniku Driver = Muscle Docking” (laughs).

Famitsu
Famitsu

I think I sort of get it, but at the same time I don’t understand…(laughs)!

Masatoshi Ishikawa
Masatoshi Ishikawa

In other words, the mechanics for both Garuda and Ifrit stand alone, and when combined they create different effects. Thus following that the mechanics are created and that was the concept.

For example, the lines connected by Ifrit will be severed off by Garuda, or the orbs generated by Garuda gets kicked away by Ifrit which creates a movable area of effect attack.

Famitsu
Famitsu

It is interesting to know that this is the source of your ideas.

By the way, was the combined form already decided during the planning phase?

Masaki Nakagawa
Masaki Nakagawa

At the time of ordering the art, it hadn’t been decided.

Masatoshi Ishikawa
Masatoshi Ishikawa

When it was handed to me there were only two figures: Ifrit and Garuda. If it were me I thought I could take up the task of creating 2 boss battles though, but… it was a tough one…(laughs).

Famitsu
Famitsu

How did the merged form come to be born?

Masatoshi Ishikawa
Masatoshi Ishikawa

Battles in “FFXIV” are related to the targetting system, but I think FFXIV battles aren’t actually suitable for fighting multiple enemies.

For example, when we have 2 bosses appear, there are many cases where the group splits into 2 and 4 players attacking on one boss at the time. If you consider fighting the battle with 2 bosses that ends up a length of 10 minutes and above, the plan will start becoming a mess and even if it’s done, you can’t really gauge on whether the battle would be fun or not.

During that time I inquired opinions from Daisuke (refers to Daisuke Nakagawa, the designer of The Bend of Time: Omega Alphascape 4th floor) as well and he thought that it’d be better if we can limit the boss number to just 1, so with the completion of model where both of them combine and the result was Raktapaksa.

E6S: Raktapaksa
E6S: Raktapaksa

Once the players manage to go past the phase of fighting both Garuda and Ifrit at the same time, Garuda and Ifrit will combine and thus become Raktapaksa, with even fiercer attacks coming at the players.

Famitsu
Famitsu

So that was the story behind it.

Masatoshi Ishikawa
Masatoshi Ishikawa

So Raktapaksa was actually an additional request. But I am glad I got it right.