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Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Interviews: Chatting with Naoki Yoshida at PAX Prime ‘13

By Michael Bitton on September 02, 2013

The level of interest in the re-launch of FFXIV as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has perhaps come to the surprise of many MMO watchers out there and even the game’s director Naoki Yoshida himself. Fortunately, we managed to catch up with the always busy, but ever passionate game director for an interview during a bustling ARR event at this year’s PAX Prime. We were joined for this interview by the folks over at GamerEscape.

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We came to the event ready to ask questions about the service issues players have been experiencing, but Mr. Yoshida decided to tackle it all head-on (as well as a couple of other things) before we could even get to our first question.  As far as the server issues go, Mr. Yoshida explained that the team grossly underestimated interest in the game’s relaunch due to the way the original game was received by gamers. This is why players are seeing the massive server issues that have been plaguing the service. Additionally, Mr. Yoshida wanted to let us know that those of you who are looking to monetize YouTube videos featuring FFXIV: ARR need not worry any longer. Square Enix is officially rescinding their stance on this and will allow full monetization of these videos going forward.

Class Mounts

On the run-up to launch of FFXIV :ARR there was some speculation that each class would get their own special mount, especially once Square Enix announced that the Conjurer would receive the Unicorn mount. However, at this moment it is only the Conjurer that features a special mount, and when asked about this, Mr. Yoshida confirmed that this was done essentially to bribe players into playing Conjurers.  Going forward, Square Enix may add additional special mounts, perhaps once level caps are raised, in order to encourage players to play Jobs or roles that are necessary but underrepresented.

 

Service Issue Compensation

Late last week, Square Enix announced their plans to address the various service issues plaguing the game, but what about compensating players for the significant frustrations they have endured and continue to endure? On that front, Mr. Yoshida informed us that the team has plans to extend the free period for players in order to give them back the time they have lost.

Primals

If you’ve been itching for even more Primal fights than are currently available in the game, you’ll be glad to know that the roster will grow in patch 2.1, which will feature Good King Moogle Mog and harder versions of existing fights, including: Titan, Garuda, and Ifrit.

After that, 2.2 will bring a number of new Primals, including ones that players “haven’t even imagined”. We were told that between Ramuh, Shiva, and Leviathan, one of these Primals would make their debut in the game as early as 2.2.

Square Enix has also gone on record to say that Free Companies will be able to capture Primals in the world and be allowed to summon them once before they are released back into the world for capture. As of this moment, this feature is seemingly missing in FFXIV: ARR, but we’re told that players can look forward to doing this in either update 2.2 or 2.3.

Datacenter Upgrade: Character Creation, Transfers, Queues, and AFK

Many of you out there likely chose a server during Phase 4 or Early Access and have friends, family, or guild mates who can’t join you due to the character creation lockouts. I have friends in this situation as well and I wanted to find out what, if anything, next week’s datacenter upgrades would have in store for people in this particular situation. New worlds are great and all for the overall health of the game and population distribution, but what about getting on servers where your friends are already playing? There are world transfers planned for mid-September, but there is also a chance that, at least on some servers, players may not necessarily have to wait that long.

One of the main culprits of server congestion and instability has to do with the game’s Duty Finder tool. This tool allows players to find players for group content game-wide, at the moment. But it’s this very aspect of the tool that has been causing many of the issues players are experiencing, loading the world servers such that they can’t accept additional logins or new character creations without risking detrimental effect to the server as a whole. As part of the server work going on this week, Square Enix will be breaking up servers into groups for the purposes of the Duty Finder, think World of Warcraft’s Battlegroups, for example. Once this is implemented, Mr. Yoshida tells us that world servers should be much less taxed and this will both allow for upgrades in the server concurrent user cap (so more players can login at once) and also ease restrictions on character creation.  

Mr. Yoshida also touched briefly on the notion of queues and an AFK idle kick.  The team is willing to look into an AFK kick or queue system, but as of this moment, they are devoting 100% of their efforts towards getting the aforementioned additional servers and server changes implemented this week. We were also told that while players may be seeing tons of other players idling around AFK, the vast majority of players logging in are actually playing, they’re just putting in some crazy hours.

It’s also important to note that if you are in a Free Company, you will not be able to transfer Free Company data with the initial implementation of server transfers in mid-September. Even if your entire FC decides to move to a new server, you will be starting from scratch as far as your Free Company progress goes.

FATEs

There are many ways to level in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, but players will always seek the path of least resistance, and at least for the moment, that seems to be the game’s FATE (dynamic event) system. At any given time, there will be multiple full groups of players running through each zone rapid chaining FATEs for extremely fast and easy experience (and seal) gains. On top of this, FATEs also scale poorly for large groups of players, as these events can be nearly instantly completed once a massive amount of players run through.

We put all this to Mr. Yoshida to find out if they were also seeing this and if they too saw it as an issue. Mr. Yoshida explained that the team realizes that FATEs are quite popular right now and that the system doesn’t scale well for the amount of players that are showing up to do them, but they are currently betting on this being less of an issue once people move through the game and the “mad dash” is over.  We did press the issue to see if they would commit to adjusting things if they found FATEs to be the predominant way of earning experience and seals a couple months out from now and were told that the team would definitely take this under consideration if necessary, but for now, they are allowing players to have fun with it and that they are confident the issue will solve itself as the game matures.

Additionally, 2.1 will bring new Field content for players to tackle, so the team hopes that having more options will encourage players to take part in different activities.

Gold Saucer

What’s the deal with the Gold Saucer? We weren’t told much other than the fact the team is working on it, and when they are working on something, they don’t tend to talk about it as much. What Mr. Yoshida would tell us is that in order to have the Gold Saucer in the game, he is requiring his team develop at least three mini-games to kick things off. This could be a card game (Triple Triad, anyone?), a snowboarding game, a racing game, it doesn’t matter, but he won’t add the Gold Saucer to the game until his team has developed mini-games to launch with. Based on this, Mr. Yoshida would share that the Gold Saucer is a bit further out, somewhere after update 2.3 hits live servers.

New Classes/Jobs

It’s fun looking back at the various Jobs and classes featured in the Final Fantasy series history as potential candidates to be added to Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Heck, you can even look at Final Fantasy XI for some obvious examples of classes players would probably like to see in ARR. However, the system ARR uses makes considering the logistics of these additions somewhat perplexing. For example, it’s not too hard to imagine Square Enix adding Dark Knight to ARR. GLD+CNJ gives you a Paladin, GLD+THM could easily give you a Dark Knight Job. But what about some other classes and Jobs that aren’t represented at all in either gameplay, theme, or aesthetic in the current game? Are these still possible? Or would Square Enix look more to add Jobs such as Dark Knight, which easily fit within the current crop of classes available in the game. 

To illustrate my point, I used the example of adding Ninja to the game. You’d probably want a “Thief” base class for that, but this doesn’t currently exist, so would Square Enix still be open to adding it?

We were told that, yes, Square Enix would be willing to add these sorts of classes and Jobs if the game needed the team roles and if it wouldn’t break the current balance of the game. Adding something like Ninja (and Thief to go along with it as a base class) would be a massive undertaking as one might imagine, as each class also features its own guild and missions to go with it. For certain iconic classes or Jobs like Ninja, Square Enix is willing to do it, but they are definitely putting more of an emphasis on trying to find Jobs that can fit within the current scope of the game’s available classes.

 

But yes, Ninja is coming. They won’t tell us when though!

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB

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