There’s a celebration of all things Final Fantasy XI to mark the game’s 20 years since its original Japanese launch. The PlayStation blog has a new interview with members of the development team, including producer Akihiko Matsui, director Yoji Fujito, and more reflecting on the past 20 years.
Each developer introduces themselves and then talks about what it was like to hear that Square Enix wanted to create the first online Final Fantasy title that would also be considered a main line numbered title. Matsui, who has been with the team since launch, pointed out that Final Fantasy as a franchise sometimes included some very different games in the main line series, so deciding to make an MMORPG was perhaps not so strange after all.
“I took it for granted that FFXI would be developed as a mainline numbered title. FFIX and FFX, which were announced at the same time, were two considerably different games, so it did not feel strange to have FFXI as an MMORPG among the others.”
Fujito contributes that he was already an MMORPG fan through Ultima Online and that there was a rumor that original director Hironobo Sakaguchi may have been inspired by EverQuest. “It seems that Sakaguchi-san’s creative motivation was greatly inspired after experiencing EverQuest, and he approached Tanaka-san and Ishii-san about his passionate idea to create it.”
The rest of the interview covers questions like what the public reaction was at the time, what experienced members of the development team already had with MMOs, as well as whether or not the team was surprised that Final Fantasy 11 had such longevity on the PlayStation 2.
Since the game is still running worldwide ( the initial North American release was in late 2003) there's also some thoughts on the process bringing the game to a global audience, whether some things would translate well, or how the game would even be accepted back in 2002.
The rest is very in-depth, but if you are a fan of the Final Fantasy series, or Final Fantasy XI in particular, behind the scenes design talk, long-running MMORPGs and communities, you should head over to the PlayStation Blog to read the full interview.