You’ve probably already heard that Final Fantasy XIV was a massive flop when it first launched. What’s interesting about this is that Square Enix remade the MMO and re-released it as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, and even more interesting is that this "new game" has been a huge success, turning around the publisher's financial forecasts, and giving the company a chance to recoup some of those losses.
One of the main people that this can be attributed to is Naoki Yoshida (AKA: Yoshi-P), the Producer and Director of the game. Yoshida-san has a great love of MMOs in general, with a long and fruitful relationship with many MMOs in the past, including Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot. When he came to Sydney I couldn’t resist the chance to sit down and have a chat with him about the direction of A Realm Reborn (that is, after I gave him a cupcake for his 41st birthday).
Player Attack: Let’s hit the ground running and talk Atma. How has the feedback on the Atma quest been? Between the chance of Atma drops and the expensive cost of the Animus books, it seems like the relic quest has slowed down greatly.
Naoki Yoshida: Up to patch 2.1, there were two ways of getting high-end gear. One was collecting tomestone, that may take time, but you could always regularly gain tomestones which made it a more secure route, or a higher level skillset is required, but fighting against very tough battle contents and trying to aim for those drops.
We received much feedback from all over the world because with tomestomes there was a limitation to how many you could obtain every week, and also when it comes to battle content some was too difficult for some players and they were not necessarily able to complete it in order to receive the item. We received feedback from players that “We would like another way of getting these items, even if it takes time, but something we could obtain in a different way.” So that’s why we decided to include this third option which is the Zodiac weapons.
The weapons you can get with Atma and by using the book for enhancing it, the items will be item level 100. There are two other ways to get this gear: one is completing Leviathan, and it’s a rare item but you can obtain the mirror and exchange it for item level 100 gear; or complete the Binding Coil of Bahamut and then use that gear with tomestones and exchange it. It’s not easy whichever path you go, and that’s why we don’t want to make it easier to get the Zodiac weapons because the other options are really tough as well. We may make it easier in the future because the item level itself might be raised, but until then I think it’s only fair to keep it very tough, because whatever route you go it’s going to be tough. I understand how you feel though, because I myself only have one Zodiac weapon so far.
The Zodiac story itself has no requirements other than time, so as long you have time players manage to have the full set (of Atma) within about one week. In order to obtain item level 100, I think it’s fair to have this type of toughness at the moment. If players prefer to do it at a slow pace, in their own time we may consider reducing it, but not at the moment.
PA: I’m not sure if you’ve seen it, but there’s “Japanese Atma Theory” kicking around the internet, referring to server/local times increasing droprates of Atma. I personally think this is wishful thinking, but do you have any comment on this?
NY: I do not intend to answer this as ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but at the same time I do believe rather than having totally random stuff going on, I think, as human nature, it’s much easier to try it out if you think there is a theory behind it, and finding the theory and following it makes more sense and gives you more motivation and I think that’s something that players, and maybe not necessarily this theory, but if you come up with your own theory it will do good.
I see some players “When I try that out I got the Atma straight away”, but that’s probably because they only tried that theory so far. I’m not going to say, because I am struggling to get Atma myself, I might try it.
PA: You mentioned many months ago a little tidbit about the possibility of Hybrid jobs, is there any more information on this?
NY: New classes and new jobs we have already completed the designing phase for the next ones coming out, and we’re redesigning it at the moment. Please look forward to the E3 announcement. Also, the expansion pack new classes and new jobs, and also the levelling up system we have many plans we are working on at the moment, we will be sharing more information in the near future. I have a tendency to reveal too much, but if I do reveal it today I will really struggle to with what to tell in upcoming events.
PA: There’s been a lot a lot of discussion around add-ons, parsers, and whether they are allowed in game. Do you think there will be a time in the future where damage parsers and the like are sanctioned by Square Enix?
NY: First of all, about add-on plans, I am sorry of the delay because of our work on the PlayStation 4 version, it delayed the initial plans we had in mind. You’ll definitely be able to change the skin of the interface, and on the technical side of things, if a technical person creates an add-on you’ll probably be able to pull some data which is send from the server to the client’s side.
Talking about tools to monitor DPS damage made by players: at the moment we have no plans to introduce an official tool because I do feel that if we introduce this tool, the players who are enjoying the DPS role but don’t necessarily have the player skill of other players I think it’s going to make them really uncomfortable in the game and in the party they might be blamed for the results. We don’t want encourage that. We’re not going to say we’re forbidding players to use that kind of tool if they make it, but I think that’s really up to the community and players for that decision. For example, with the World of Warcraft with DPS add-on, if players are not necessarily good enough, then you get that skeleton on top of their head, and I don’t think this is pleasant for players.
PA: It was only a few weeks after patch 2.3 launched that people beat the Second Coil of Bahamut. What are your thoughts on players beating the content so quickly after the patch? How hard is it to create content that will challenge players but not hold them back forever?
NY: The Binding Coil of Bahamut is designed to be extremely difficult, and now we have added the new turns, the previous ones are a bit easier to approach because we now have the Echo. I do sometimes join parties and see how it’s going on public servers. That being said, the latest turns are extremely difficult and that’s how we designed it, but with Blue Gartr they are extremely good. If we designed the content to be something that even that team can’t complete in four to five weeks, then no-one will be able to complete it, so to be honest, I think it’s just that team is extremely good compared to the rest of the community.
With the latest part of the Binding Coil of Bahamut, Turn 1 and Turn 2 are not that difficult compared to the rest of the turns. Turn 3, about last week, people started to be able to complete it with Allagan Tomestone of Soldiery (gear), but this week people are starting to try Turn 4 so I think that’s going to plan anyway, so that’s good. I think it’s just a few teams like Blue Gartr that are extremely good so other than that it’s all going to plan.
That being said, we are thinking about giving a special reward to those players, so once we have some more information I would like to make an announcement.
PA: Speaking of holding players back, Australian players still suffer bad lag which holds them back from content where timing is important, such as Titan Extreme and Turn 5 with Twintania. Is the Echo adequate to deal with this issue, and since its inception have many more players been passing this content, which can act as roadblocks?
NY: Personally I was playing the game for the last couple of days in the hotel in Sydney and I was actually playing the Extreme mode of Titan, and I absolutely understand what you mean. I got hit with Weights and it was embarrassing for me, so I really feel for you and Australian players, even with the Echo I understand you may suffer and you might not be able to complete this content. I know the easiest solution is to bring a server to the Australian region, but at the same time, it doesn’t always make sense to do that from a cost point of view, but I’m definitely going to have a serious conversation when I get back from Japan to try to find a solution to the lag issue for Australian players.
PA: PvP seems to be getting more unpopular, despite being only relatively new. What changes are being made to improve the popularity of PvP? Perhaps a chance to the ranking or acquisition of wolf marks?
NY: First of all, just before patch 2.25 the players were really divided into two: those who will play PvP and those who will not. For those who will play PvP, because they were playing it they reached the level cap so far and that’s why they didn’t have any motivation. We removed that cap and we also introduced some dedicated rewards for those players so I believe we introduced some motivation and they have actually started playing again.
Secondly, we do realise that those players who may be interesting in PvP and went to participate in it got knocked out straight away because their opponent had so many PvP abilities, that is discouraging and demotivating those players who are interested in PvP. We want to make sure there is no unfairness among the people who want to try out the PvP. With patch 2.28 we are planning to make changes to the PvP system so everyone that is going to try it out will have all the basic PvP abilities from the very beginning.
That being said, I totally understand that those who have experience with the Wolves Den would not easily be convinced to try it out again, but we are going to introduce this large-scale PvP in patch 2.3 (frontline) so many players will be participating at once. This means the pressure on each individual player will be less than in Wolves Den, so even if you don’t have the top-end skills yet, it’s going to less stressful for those players to participate in PvP content. Just like comparing Binding Coil of Bahamut and Crystal Tower, even those players who find Bahamut too complicated or too tough, Crystal Tower is a bit more casual for those players. It’s just like that. Even if you feel the Wolves Den might be too difficult for you, you can still participate in Frontline, and once you get used to it and once you enjoy the PvP, you might go back to the Wolves Den. We’re going to try the approach from both sides. We’re not trying to make everyone try the Wolves Den by adding more rewards; it’s really up to the players which PvP content they want to try out.
PA: With the possible addition of more jobs in the future, are we ever likely to see a split between stats for jobs and classes? For example, a lot of Arcanists struggle with whether to put their points towards Mind or Intelligence, depending on whether they want to play SMN/SCH more.
NY: We are actually planning to make some changes to the main system, especially around the expansion pack time. Until then, we are considering making it easier to allow the players to reset where they put their stats to make the stats switchable.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is available now for PlayStation 3, PC and within the last few weeks, PlayStation 4. An ongoing subscription is required to play.