Famitsu: Interview With Yoshida For FanFest 2021!

Authors

Famitsu
Famitsu Japanese Video Games Media
Iluna Minori
Iluna Minori Translator | SEA | Chocobo
Nemekh Kinryuu
Nemekh Kinryuu Site Founder | EU | Cerberus
Message From AkhMorning

As part of our vision for future content on AkhMorning we are looking to expand our horizons with coverage of various overseas media to bridge together the information between regions and to help enhance the global understanding and appreciation of FFXIV.

This article is our seventh translation article of overseas interviews. It is unofficial and all rights to the source images, assets and written content belong to Famitsu and SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. respectively.

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

Interview with Yoshida for FFXIV Digital FanFest 2021

An Interview with the Producer and Director of Final Fantasy XIV, Naoki Yoshida On The New Job “Reaper”,Endwalker Content and Its Volume

Source Article

FF14 吉田P/Dインタビュー 新ジョブ”リーパー”や『暁月のフィナーレ』のボリューム感について訊く

Famitsu Article Staff

Famitsu has conducted an interview with the producer and director of the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV (abbreviated as “FFXIV”), Naoki Yoshida during the Digital Fan Festival 2021, an online event held 2 days throughout the 15th and 16th of May, 2021.

In conjunction with other media outlets that also attended the event, they’ve managed to conduct a short interview that focuses on the newly announced job “Reaper” and other news and the information for the next expansion named Endwalker (Japanese name: Gyougetsu no Finale, lit. “The Dawning Moon of Finale”) that was revealed during that event.

Famitsu
Famitsu
Endwalker Trailer: Walking On The Moon
Endwalker Trailer: Walking On The Moon
Endwalker Trailer: Meteor As A Paladin
Endwalker Trailer: Meteor As A Paladin

FFXIV's Producer

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida Producer | JP | Square Enix

Naoki Yoshida

The Executive Director on the Board of Directors for Square-Enix and Head of the Third Business Division.

Worked as the Game Designer and Director for “Dragon Quest Monster Battle Road”, the first arcade title for the “Dragon Quest” series. He took over the duties of Producer and Director for “Final Fantasy XIV” in December 2010 and has maintained the position since then.

Currently working on “Final Fantasy XVI” as the Producer of the game as well.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Among all the melee jobs released for Final Fantasy (abbreviated as “FF”) so far, there are still many jobs that aren’t implemented in FFXIV. So we would like to know the reason behind the decision to implement Reaper in FFXIV, which is so far an original job not seen anywhere.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Since The FF series has been going on for 35 years now, there are still jobs that haven’t seen any appearance. But I do think that in order to be able to keep expanding our content further as a social game under the MMORPG genre, if we are to overdo the arrangement for the jobs in order to fit them in a MMORPG setting, when they are jobs that are unique to the FF and yet tricky to deal with, the essence of the original job would be lost and that’s what I think of it.

Of course, there are voices asking us to implement the jobs that have appeared in earlier Final Fantasy titles, but I had to consider whether I could properly bring over the experience and impression from the original to FFXIV… What we must do is to ensure whether we can provide an interesting game experience.

In case we end up forcefully implementing jobs for the sake of evoking player’s nostalgia, and end up the result being completely different from the memories, it will end up not only unbeneficial to the game as a whole, but also ended up doing a disservice to the original job as well.

Therefore, regardless of now or the future, I believe original jobs will become more common instead. Both of the new jobs, “Sage” where we announced the other day as well as the recently announced “Reaper” were the result of serious deliberation, and thus we’re in the process of making them jobs that are unique to FFXIV.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

By the way, about the “Reaper”job, we want to know there are points we need to take note about the job, and how is this job different from the others?

Famitsu
Famitsu

We received a lot of voices from our fans, especially among them the Western players asking for a job that wields a scythe. When we looked from the perspective of “what happens if we create a completely new game experience by applying a scythe wielding job as a job that is unique to FFXIV?”, I personally would like to see a different twist applied to it rather than just attack with the job’s own capacity as a melee DPS

So we came up with the idea of “accumulating a certain gauge by attacking, and fusing with the summoned Avatar itself while fighting”. I apologise for the idea that sounds like it’s thought up by an 8th grader but… (laughs)

I was able to embody the feeling of maximizing the player’s tension as the battle went on with “Reaper”, so I thought, it’s good.

After that, we examined whether this idea would truly work as a system, and it went surprisingly well, it was unanimously decided upon. The scythe is also easy to visualise on the graphics side as well, so that’s what we’re currently working on right now.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

With the Deathscythe being included as part of the bonus items from purchasing the Collector’s Edition and so on, the scythe as a weapon seems to be taking its inspiration from FFXI, and it’s interesting to see how much of the two-handed scythe weapon skills seen in FFXI such as “Guillotine”, “Cross Reaper”, specifics that would please FFXI fans will be available.

Famitsu
Famitsu

We are currently at the stage of creating skills and adjusting them at the same time, there are many members currently working on FFXIV originally from the FFXI development team, so it’s a given that players will be seeing some form of homage implemented.

I do think the “FFXIV” team has been doing their job in giving its proper respect to the jobs and actions that appeared in the series up until now while rearranging them to fit “FFXIV”, so we’re retaining the same working method here, on the other hand we try to avoid disappointing our players by shaking off the focus on original elements.

On the balance side, while we’re still under the COVID situation here, we are planning on delivering the job experience by conducting a media tour just like the ones we had so far, and we hope to be able to show all our players how the jobs have transformed, including existing jobs as well.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

You mentioned that Reaper will have a specific gauge earlier, so does this mean the specific is set so that the Avatar will possess the player after the gauge is filled?

Famitsu
Famitsu

I can’t say for sure considering not all the specs have been completely finalised, the basic idea is to build up the gauge as you attack, and once it’s filled completely, you then assimilate your avatar at the right timing…and that’s the basic gist of the job.

However, this is just our estimation so far and we’re still in the process of verifying whether or not it will work when it comes to player experience, so we’d like you to take it as this is just an “image concept” of the job for now.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

Will the Avatar itself be different from a Summoner’s Egi or a Machinist’s Automaton?

Famitsu
Famitsu

Yes, it will be different. The Reaper is not a pet job.

Since our policy is to deliver a different game experience for each job for FFXIV, if you are to ask us whether the job would be a Machinist when it’s not a pet job then our answer will be “it’s different”.

So we are exactly working on it right now in order to achieve the goal of delivering various game experiences.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

Are there several types of Avatars?

Famitsu
Famitsu

No, as expected, we have restrictions or regulations on the graphic side, so we can only afford one single Avatar type. As I have mentioned in the development panel held today, we are restricted on how much we can allow for textures and polygons that can be stored in one character, so they are all strictly regulated.

In addition to the dynamic movements, the models and textures for Avatar are packed to its limit, so if I were to request for five different types of Avatars, the designer would ask for me to change the regulations”. (laughs)

Since there is only one Avatar, we instead made sure the job is designed to be dynamic when it fuses with the Avatar.   Also, the appearance of each race when they fuse with an Avatar will be different, so they won’t all look the same. We’ve done our best to keep the individuality of the player character intact, so I hope you’ll look forward to it.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

What’s left would be whether it’ll be a pure or support type DPS, and we’re really interested to know about this.

Famitsu
Famitsu

We have a rough idea of which direction we’re going with this, but I don’t think we are at the point where we can tell you about it yet.

We’ll definitely set up a future venue and we’ll have the chance to explain further about the battles on a later date, so I hope you’ll be able to probe further once we get there.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida
Hrothgar Reaper Concept Art
Hrothgar Reaper Concept Art
Reaper And Avatar Render
Reaper And Avatar Render
In-Game Reaper Pose
In-Game Reaper Pose
In-Game Reaper Scythe Attack
In-Game Reaper Scythe Attack

We saw the announcement of male Viera earlier today, but prior to this announcement we haven’t seen their appearances anywhere in the FF series.

Is their design original to “FFXIV”?

Famitsu
Famitsu

Yes, that’s correct.

This incarnation of Viera is created by the FFXIV development team here, so we’ll be happy if you can try them out once implemented. However, as what we’ve answered in our media interviews during the announcement of Shadowbringers, we did indeed plan to stop working on new races after announcing the implementation of female Viera and male Hrothgar on patch 5.0.

Of course, we do want to create new races, but the addition of new races would require a huge amount of resources for it to work. We will have to multiply every piece of equipment rewards by the number of races made for it, which simply affect the time it takes to deliver a patch.

However, we hear voices from all around the world saying they want to play as male Viera or female Hrothgar with their own hands, or how they think the FFXIV team is capable of creating male versions of beast type races that are different from Miqo’te.

Furthermore, the graphics team also told me, “While we really can’t do two races here but if Yoshida-san really wants to do it, maybe we can start with one race?” and so we started looking into it and examined the chances of making it a reality.

We really struggled in how to establish the existence of male Viera when we ourselves have not seen how they looked beforehand, and truth to be told, initially I did think we should implement female Hrothgar along with male Viera at the same time as well.

However, the workload required to have both races implemented simultaneously on the next expansion after Endwalker is not much different than implementing one race at a time starting Endwalker.

So we thought of announcing that we will definitely work on the implementation of female Hrothgar, and allow players to have access to male Viera in Endwalker first hand. This would end up beneficial to the health of FFXIV in the long run, and this is why we took the decision to implement male Viera firsthand.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

While the male Viera is a race rarely seen according to what’s been set by the lore, with them playable as a character, does this mean we will see the appearance of male Viera NPCs as well?

Famitsu
Famitsu

Of course, I’m not saying the possibility is zero.

However, even if we consider how they are rarely seen on the eyes of the players due to their rarity, we have to ensure that we are creating them based on the given setting and if we are, for example, told to massively populate male Vieras and create “a paradise of male Vieras” to justify their appearance, I don’t think we can actually make this happen. (laughs)

We have to ensure that their appearances will follow exactly what has been set in order for them to appear in the world of FFXIV.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida
Male Viera Concept Art
Male Viera Concept Art
Male Viera Render
Male Viera Render
In-Game Male Viera With A Helmet
In-Game Male Viera With A Helmet
Male Viera Outdoors
Male Viera Outdoors

For this expansion, I believe you’ve mentioned several times that the overall volume of this expansion becomes really large.

Although I believe this also depends on the players as well, do you think there will be any changes in the play time to complete the main scenario as compared to the previous expansions?

Famitsu
Famitsu

We’re still in the middle of development here so we don’t have any confirmations here, but if we are to judge on the feeling of what we’re working on right now, it definitely feels a lot longer. The cutscenes and voices recorded for this expansion is no doubt the largest ever, and in many ways there are many elements that can’t be removed when we try to deliver a satisfying conclusion to the Hydaelyn & Zodiark arc, for both players and us as well.

Even so, the form of satisfaction is what we actually are pursuing right now. Therefore, while we initially targeted an earlier release date for this expansion, we had to deliver the reason behind changing our release date and made it the 23rd of November, 2021 in order to deliver an expansion to everyone in a perfect condition.

Although this may be done at the convenience of our developers, with the Trust system implemented at 5.0, you are now required to always keep the Scion members around you, which then a group can be established no matter the player’s role when entering a dungeon.

This was actually something we didn’t foresee beforehand. So for example, during Heavensward or Stormblood, we had situations where the players and the Scions go separate ways in order to fulfill their mission and the dungeons are usually challenged only by the Warriors of Light. Although what the Scions did behind the scenes are usually reported after but in a way we don’t see the need to portray the same situation anymore this time. Which is why starting Shadowbringers, we see everyone tagging along.

Of course, we get to have dialogues when you approach them and you get to have a short conversation with them, and we see the increase of cast appearances during cutscenes as the result of this change. This means we need to increase the amount of character acting in one cutscene, along with the increase of character amount, and of course if we just made them talk casually it’ll just end up boring, so we have to include some form of acting in them. So even if we don’t increase the amount of scenes, the acting however increases in proportion to such changes, so this contributed to the reason for the volume increase.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

Indeed, we saw ourselves getting closer to the members of the Scions throughout Shadowbringers.

Since we just progressed the plot naturally so we didn’t consider the cost it would take from the developer’s side but this certainly gave us an insight after listening to it.

Famitsu
Famitsu

Especially now that we are seeing a “grand gathering” here, I believe you can feel the same seeing how it went from the trailer, where the music is also a “compilation” of all the familiar songs released thus far, with all sorts of character making their appearances in the game, so I hope you will look forward to it and enjoy as much as we did.

All the hard work we spent on made the work we’ve created far more interesting here.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida
Endwalker Trailer: Y'Shtola Before Sharlayan's Forum
Endwalker Trailer: Y'Shtola Before Sharlayan's Forum
Endwalker Trailer: G'Raha Tia In Sharlayan's Library
Endwalker Trailer: G'Raha Tia In Sharlayan's Library

By the way, it was surprising to see the appearance of Vritra, one of the First Brood in the trailer.

We saw the release of Tiamat, who was previously sealed, from Azys Lla as well and we would like to know if we can also expect Azdaja, another one of the First Brood to appear in Endwalker as well as elements that are not related to Hydaelyn and Zodiark, to make their appearance as part of the “grand gathering” as well?

Famitsu
Famitsu

Actually, even though I mentioned the word “grand gathering” doesn’t mean we’ll forcefully include whatever elements that haven’t made its appearance in the game.

Although by sheer luck, in the “Welcome to Naoki’s Room” corner held earlier, I do think our players managed to find out what we have in store for the expansion when Ryunosuke Kamiki and I had a conversation about the appearance of characters, saying things like “you brought this guy here for the fun of it”, or “This just popped out”.

Rather, when it comes to talking about the deep history between humans and dragons, we’ve seen how 2 races of humans and dragons bonded together as seen in Heavensward, and in order to reiterate how those bonds are created is something we can’t leave out when it comes to portraying those races. And then if we are to convey that point, we will need one of the dragons of the First Brood to shoulder the role and we will have to build based on that point, so to deliberate on whether it’s necessary or not is the main reason for the choice.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

So in other words, the appearance of Vritra in the story is an inevitable one?

Famitsu
Famitsu

That’s right.

I think this is something our players did not really see coming, but we do have a lot of stories to tell about Vritra here so we would like you to look forward to it as well.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida
Endwalker Trailer: Vritra of the First Brood
Endwalker Trailer: Vritra of the First Brood

Although we are delving into the conclusion of the Hydaelyn and Zodiark arc, we definitely see the possibility of the story continuing and how it will proceed beyond 6.0, 7.0, 8.0 and more.

I would like to know the reason behind ending the story arc here.

Famitsu
Famitsu

This is mainly personal but as much as I’m a person who creates games, at the same time I’m also a consumer as well, so I’m a person who really grew up impacted by various works throughout my life. Since I have Otaku tendencies, I tend to get really absorbed by the works I play. (laughs)

So when I watch anime or movies there are some works where I tend to think “How much better that work would have been if we have that sort of climax at this part instead of that section” as well. Of course I understand the circumstances behind it but considering I’m an Otaku I like to delve deeper into that aspect… (laughs)

On the other hand, I thought FFXIV was initially supposed to end the Hydaelyn and Zodiark arc at patch 7.0, but considering how Shadowbringers had laid out 75% of the entire plot point to the players, I truly felt that everyone had reach the same level of excitement that I had felt as a consumer, and so I thought, “Perhaps I don’t need to cool down my heated up feelings here”.

If that’s the case, I thought that I’d aim to deliver the first climax that everyone wants to see at Patch 6.0. The reason why I deliberately mention the conclusion of the Hydaelyn and Zodiark arc here is because, if I keep stating the continuation here and I risk everyone feeling “just how long will that continue” here, don’t you think? (laughs)

Which is why I purposely make clear that this is going to be the end of the story surrounding Hydaelyn and Zodiark. Not to mention this is also what the development members mentioned as well, “It’s the last so let’s strike an end to this”, they said.

When it comes to stories in FF series, most stories would enter the climax point when the story is about 75% done, so the remaining 20% would see the stories entering the territory of something like “The earth starts floating up”, or “The world turned into something abnormal that made you feel as if the world is ending”. That 20% left of that portion is what Endwalker would be, which is then repackaged into one full expansion, and that is the challenge that we’re undertaking, as well as the game in the form of entertainment.

Since stories like this are only possible when it comes to MMORPG, we would like to give our all and do our best, that is the concept. Therefore to the players, our message to them is to “witness the first ending of our story, and then we’ll continue our journey once that is said and done”.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

With the Hydaelyn and Zodiark arc ending in patch 6.0, we know the patches will continue into 6.1, 6.2 and beyond, but what will be illustrated there?

Famitsu
Famitsu

A new story will begin. Of course the main character will be the player once again, the hero that is the “Warrior of Light”.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

Will it be told as a part of a story for Endwalker?

Famitsu
Famitsu

No.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

If that’s the case, will the title change after Patch 6.1?

Famitsu
Famitsu

Well, I do wonder. (laughs)

Everyone laughs

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

However, I think when it comes to how we deliver that content it will depend on the tension developed after finishing Endwalker.

In other words, when I do my Producer and Director check on the content, and play the game from the perspective of a player, the image of “I definitely think other players would think that way, so this is how we should deliver our content from 6.1 onwards” will become obvious I reckon.

Currently I haven’t gone through such experience yet so once our development advances further I’ll be able to come out with further ideas about it.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

This is about the Island Sanctuary, but you’ve announced that we’ll be able to play the content without having to be a Crafter or Gatherer?

Famitsu
Famitsu

You can.

This particular relaxing life content that carries the name of unmanned island sanctuary development is not only about fighting monsters, but also about taking care of them, bringing animals from all over Eorzea, and one can even have fun just watching them as well.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

I would assume the image is different from the content where you can level your crafters and gatherers?

Famitsu
Famitsu

Of course, we’ll try to make it easy for players to get involved in life-related content such as Crafters and Gatherers as they play and we’ll definitely create something that can easily lead to this. However, as you mentioned in your question, this would mean you’re required to unlock the classes, and some people may not want to do so, so you can still enjoy the game without having to unlock them.

There may be elements in the content that you can benefit from having a gatherer or crafter, but for this content we’ve eliminated as many competitive factors as possible, and the idea is to let people collect anything they want at their own pace and feel relaxed when playing the content.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

You mentioned that you received an unexpectedly strong response, but how much of a response did you expect initially?

Famitsu
Famitsu

I expected “Oh, is that so?” and pretty much that, I guess. (laughs)

In Japan, there are many players who like to collect things at a steady pace. That’s precisely why they have loved playing with data since the Famicom (Family Computer, known to the west as NES) era, and I love doing that as well. When it comes to Europe and the US however, I feel that many people would prefer content that is action-based and want results as quickly as possible.

That’s why I thought that it would be difficult for this type of content to be popular abroad… but even so I also think it wouldn’t be right to just leave that kind of content aside, so I believe having to prepare content where things can be played differently would enrich the FFXIV world here.

However, I did not expect the response from both Europe and the US to be huge after I announced it. I mean of course this type of content would be known in Japan as “Dash Village” (DASH Mura), and this would be the trend that attracts responses from variety show directors. (laughs)

Everyone laughs

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

When it comes to having interviews with US and European media, the interviewer will always ask something along the lines of “There are many players out there who definitely look forward to Island Sanctuary so we would like to know what kind of content it is” and so on, so this is precisely why they would ask us whether players can enjoy content without being a gatherer or crafter.

The project for Island Sanctuary has been conceived for quite a while and has progressed since, but as seen in “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”, players can connect with each other during the COVID period and enjoy the content together without rushing through and at their own pace, and I feel that this is precisely why there is a tendency for such games to be highly regarded that way. Although I haven’t really read deep into this yet, which is why am under a bit of pressure here… (bitter laughs)

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida
Island Sanctuary
Island Sanctuary

Lastly, we would like you to deliver your message for those who are enjoying Digital FanFest.

Famitsu
Famitsu

With the COVID pandemic ongoing right now, we know that players are unable to attend this event no matter the circumstances they’re in. I thought we would be able to enjoy the usual scene of players enjoying the event with their face full of smiles, alas we can’t have that this time round.

However, we’ve managed to pick up the challenge and delivered an event that involves our players from all over the world using digital technology as a new, ongoing future format, and this, I believe, could serve as a springboard for future endeavors.

Naoki Yoshida
Naoki Yoshida

Closing Words From AkhMorning

We hope that you have enjoyed this thorough translation covering Yoshida’s interview after the wonder that was Digital FanFest 2021.

We are also working on parts 1 and 2 of the Famitsu FanFest 2021 interview with FFXIV’s Developer team. They will be published in the near future.

Please look forward to it!

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