Full translation of Famitsu interview done around the time of PAX East is below. This is quite a long interview with tons of previously unreleased information about Heavensward, probably the first of an onslaught of PR and info dumps leading up to the release of the Heavensward.
If anything below sounds questionable or unclear, please let me know either by replying here or by PM - it's likely to be a translation error/misinterpretation.
Info in [[double brackets]] is added by me, not a translated part of the original article.
After his stage presentation at PAX East 2015, we sat down for some time to speak with Final Fantasy XIV producer and director Naoki Yoshida. The interview was crammed full of not-yet-publicized information about Heavensward so it's a must read for all players at about 23,000 [[JP]] characters long! [[this translation is about 8500 words]]
For the eight days following March 6, 2015, PAX East 2015 was held in Boston in the United States. During the event, it was announced that Final Fantasy XIV's first expansion pack, Heavensward, would be released on June 23.
Following the presentation, Naoki Yoshida, producer and director, spoke with the Japanese media in Boston. Questions were asked about every aspect of Heavensward, and even about the most recent events in Final Fantasy XIV such as patch 2.55. The interview was extended far beyond the amount of time that was initially planned. Since it's quite long, please set aside some time to read through it - it'll be worth it!
Yoshida held at least 19 interviews during this trip.
How many media interviews have you held since you arrived in the United States?
Naoki Yoshida: I've held about 19 interview sessions so far. Actually because we also held some joint interviews, in terms of the actual number of media outlets, it's probably about 1.5 times that.
What types of questions do you receive from the foreign [[i.e. NA/EU]] media?
Y: It depends a lot on who we're speaking with. If we're speaking about media who are generally reporting on MMORPGs, the questions are quite detailed, and we receive more general questions from more general media. I'm guessing this is because I've spoken with several writers who have met me for the first time, but I've received the question "what does Final Fantasy mean to you?" several times.
How do you respond to that?
Y: It changes each time, but in most cases I give a joking answer like "well, it has moogles and chocobos and summons..." (laughs).
(Laughs) So you kind of mentioned the symbols of Final Fantasy.
Y: Yes. Since FF is a series which has nostalgic elements for players, it becomes a point to players whether those things that symbolize the experience are in the game, so after I respond jokingly with the things they naturally expect, I also talk about other items like the graphics, story, sound design, and elements of surprise.
Are you planning to incorporate any "Final Fantasy"-type elements this time with Heavensward?
Y: In the "patch 3.X series" that will begin with Heavensward, we want to have a focus on the dramatic story like in other FF games. I feel like we especially need to get this right in terms of the storyline and game content. Of course we will also focus on the community aspects.
How will you bring "drama" to the community?
Y: Because many people are still starting the game fresh, we want to have mechanisms in the 3.X series that connect these people with veteran players in a meaningful way. For example, since character development will continue with the increase of the level cap, this will create new opportunities for new players to meet veteran members from other communities. By planning the timing of these encounters, it creates more opportunity for players from different communities to become friends, and we want to support this from a system side more than before as well. Additionally, on the design side of things, we will continue to work consciously to create situations where players will make new acquaintances in the content.
Can you give us an example of what you mean?
Y: We'll talk about more details later, but one example we kind of touched on earlier was that when you go on an airship adventure with your company crafted airship, you might run into another FC group and meet them. Honestly, I don't know how players will react to this because it's definitely a new element in FFXIV compared to anything we've had before. However, with these kind of elements we hope that the dramatic parts of the game can be further emphasized.
The release date was originally scheduled for May 18.
Why did you decide to release the game on June 23?
Y: About eight months earlier we had decided that even though it was towards the end of spring, we were going to work towards a May release date which we had planned for May 18. However, because we had so many different elements we were working on and we ran out of time to make adjustments... (laughs) it finally became June 23. Anyway, my excuse is that it's "Square Enix spring."
Although some would argue that June isn't spring... (laughs)
Y: Yes, when I think of June I think of early summer... but I think some players who were more in tune with our plans predicted this because we hadn't yet started taking official preorders for the game and, considering the distribution situation, it takes about three months from preorders before the earliest possible release date.
Is March 16 the preorder date for just the North American region?
Y: It will start around the world at the same time.
What are the conditions for getting early access?
Y: This won't include the bundle pack with A Realm Reborn and Heavensward, but if you reserve the normal version or collector's edition of Heavensward, you'll receive early access as a benefit.
Will the Mac version have the same game experience as the Windows version?
Y: Yes, it won't be different.
You didn't have to make any changes?
Y: Simply put, you can play the full version of FFXIV on your Mac.
What kind of specs will be required for Macs?
Y: We'll formalize those at a later date, so please check back at that time.
The full version of the trailer will debut after part 2 of Before the Fall is released.
For PAX East 2015, your main goal was to publicize the release date for Heavensward?
Y: Well, if we were still progressing towards our earlier planned release date of May 18, the contents of our presentation would have been different.
Since they're coming up soon, are you planning ahead for the Niconico Super Conference and European media tour?
Y: We also have the producer letters LIVE, and since we still have a lot to talk about with Heavensward, I hope you continue to pay attention to our PR.
Specifically what scenes will be added to the full version of the trailer that you're releasing in April?
Y: In the teaser trailer that we released, the Warrior of Light is shown entering the gate into Ishgard. The full version will show a flashback of events leading up to that.
Why that scene?
Y: Well the reason that the gates were opened and why he wound up there are parts of the story that will be revealed during the main scenario in patch 2.55, so basically we cut it short to avoid spoilers. After you experience the main scenario of patch 2.55, you'll have a better understanding of what you've seen in the teaser trailer, such as his grim facial expression.
What's the planned release timing for patch 2.55?
Y: We'll be announcing that soon. [[March 31, already announced]]
So after the patch, you'll be publishing the long version of the trailer.
Y: Yes. Our PR team has planned to reveal the full version of the trailer in a theater that we rented out, and we'll be broadcasting that producer letter LIVE from the movie theater.
You'll be holding the producer letter LIVE from a movie theater?
Y: Yes, we have it planned for mid-April [[announced at last live letter that this was tentatively scheduled for April 11]]. We're planning to have several hundred players invited by a lottery. The full version of the trailer will be premiered at the beginning, and we'll follow that up with the producer letter LIVE.
About when in April are you planning to release the benchmark software for Heavensward?
Y: I think we'll be publishing it perhaps around Niconico Super Conference (April 25-26) as part of our exhibit.
You mentioned that the benchmark software goes on for about nine minutes, I can't think of anything else like that (laughs).
Y: Actually it was initially about 13 minutes, but I said "this is really not good." (laughs) Since the benchmark software is also used as a promotional video, such as something you might see at the counter in a PC shop, I decided that 13 minutes was too long after talking it over with Hiroshi (Hiroshi Takai, assistant director).
And what did you decide?
Y: "We probably can't go for 13 minutes" (laughs), though we could probably fit it into nine minutes. The original benchmark for A Realm Reborn was five minutes and 40 seconds, so it's not totally unreasonable... (laughs).
So as a result you settled on nine minutes.
Y: Yeah. We thought it would be better. (laughs)
In the benchmark software, how can you experience the character creation for Au Ra?
Y: Similar to the character creation benchmark software that we released for A Realm Reborn, we'll also have character creation included in this benchmark with the Au Ra race's characters added. Since we're using up the last bit of time we have to add more features to the Au Ra, the number of selections might be a bit limited, but you can still save the data and use the appearances you create once the game is released. Once we have all of the options programmed, we plan to update the benchmark.
How diverse are the creation possibilities for Au Ra?
Y: By combining different colors and horn styles as well as different eye types, you can create a female character that can resemble anywhere from a beautiful woman to a succubus.
It sounds like there's more of a range available than there is for other races - was that your plan?
Y: I told the art team to add more personality to the facial patterns on the Au Ra for both genders. For the original races, the patterns are pretty similar with small changes between them, but the Au Ra change that up.
Will the horns unique to the Au Ra create issues with interference, like with helmets?
Y: The adjustments took time... it was a lot of effort from the character modeling team. It was important to us that the horns would be visible even with helmets on to maintain the identity of the race. There was a lot of talk between the art and character teams to make sure that interference with new equipment wouldn't occur because of last minute design changes. Of course, the new equipment took this into account, but we had to carefully go through adjustments for existing equipment to fit the Au Ra.
Cid and other companions will be moving to Ishgard!
Although Ishgard is the focus of the story, are there other adventurers from outside Eorzea who will appear?
Y: The basic storyline will have players go to the sky. Speaking of outside Eorzea, since Sharlayan will play more of a role than before, you should pay attention to that as there may be a character you've seen before in the FF series who will appear again.
In some of the videos that showed the upper part of Ishgard, an airship landing area was displayed. Will there be airship traffic between Ishgard and the three cities?
Y: We are planning to connect the airship landing to Ishgard later, but it has not yet been opened. Because there are aetheryte within the city, we expect that players will travel back and forth using that.
Cid's aircraft looked like the airships that we saw in the upper part of Ishgard - will Cid be relocated from Revenant's Toll to Ishgard?
Y: Yes. Since the base of the activities of the Warriors of Light will move to Ishgard, main NPCs in the storyline will also move there.
So it's likely that Revenant's Toll may become a little lonely.
Y: That's true. Maybe Rowena will even move... look at it from her point of view, she's already conquered the allied area of the three cities to Eorzea, it's not much of a leap to see her moving on to try to conquer Ishgard (laughs).
What about Gerolt?
Y: Gerolt's constantly on the move to try to make the ultimate furnace, so you may see him move as well. As far as this goes, and the story with it, you'll find out more in the future.
So not only the warriors of light, but also the NPCs will be moving the site of their adventures to Ishgard?
Y: Well, there are also elements of the story of Heavensward in the existing three city-states, so not everything is concentrated in one place.
Will you be bringing back old places from Coerthas in 1.0 such as Owl's Nest and Falcon's Nest?
Y: Falcon's Nest will appear. In addition to being a village, there's quite a bit going on there.
Ishgard is known as the home of the chocobos, so will there be something related to chocobos?
Y: I think you'll find out more following along the patch 3.X series. By the way, in terms of the settlements in the storyline, there's a village that makes its living by hunting chocobos.
[[FYI, in general, the Japanese word used for the dragons in Heavensward is "Tenryu," or "sky dragons"/"heaven dragons"]]
It was previously announced that we would be fighting seven dragons in Heavensward. It seems that Bahamut is the elder of the seven dragons, so will Bahamut have any relationship to the story of Heavensward?
Y: Of the seven dragons, Nidhogg has already appeared in the job quests for Dragoon. As you pointed out, Bahamut is another of the seven dragons. Tiamat, which should be familiar from the FF series, is another. The other dragons will show up through the storyline, but the story of the fate of Bahamut, who was summoned as a primal and later imprisoned by the ancient empire of Allag, will be told in a side story.
Will we meet with all of the seven dragons in the patch 3.X series?
Y: If not all of them, you should meet the majority. We've also started to hear about the beginnings of Omega, so you may not just see dragons.
Omega! That should be tough (laughs). Tell us a bit about what you've been doing with reviewing parameters of equipment and what your plans are with the release of Heavensward.
Y: While FFXIV was under development, we wanted to be careful to not include parameters which had an extreme influence, such as "haste" in FFXI - this is why we limited the effectiveness of skill speed and spell speed, to avoid upsetting battle balance. Since we've gone through the whole patch 2.X series and we better understand the balance now, we've decided to work on a comprehensive readjustment of secondary parameters. We'll also continue to consider changing the effectiveness of these values in the future.
Is there a possibility that you'll be making adjustments for skill speed and spell speed, for example?
Y: This is just an example, but it will have an effect on DoT, and so on. For example, a higher spell speed will raise the strength of the DoT's damage per tick, so the overall amount of damage will be raised. I'd like to avoid going into too much detail because it's still under adjustment and we understand that we need to considerably increase the importance of spell speed, but there will be changes to important parameters for each job.
MP management and buff maintenance will be important for Dark Knight.
So dark knight will parry enemy attacks with their sword, will it also be dealing magic damage using its HP?
Y: When you activate a technique that the development team has been calling the "dark buff," MP will be consumed, and you'll be surrounded by a dark aura. A dark knight should always be fighting with this effect active. It's also possible to self-buff to increase damage by using the dark aura.
Will it also use magic?
Y: For attacking enemies, there will be both single target and AoE (ranged) magic available. Many people think that MP will be considered important to dark knights, but it will be more important to manage the dark power. However, the source of that power is MP, so in that way, MP is important. By the way, within the dark force, there is a system on another level which will further strengthen actions situationally. Tanking with dark knight is not like anything that we've had before.
With MP being important, the value of piety materia might grow in the future?
Y: Well, I guess there's some possibility it might for the people who are concerned about maximum MP on dark knight.
Are there also abilities which consume HP instead of MP?
Y: We were trying to decide for some time whether we should use HP instead of MP as the source of power for dark knight. We thought that by depleting your HP to enhance your defenses, such as Cecil in FFIV, it would be quite tricky in raids, so we decided to not adopt the idea of utilizing HP. We're still considering what support skills to implement in the future, so adjustments are ongoing.
Astrologian will fight by switching between "pure healer" and "shield" stances.
Tell us a bit more about the two styles of astrologian.
Y: The best way to put it simply is that you'll be able to switch between stances of a pure healer type and a barrier type. One way to think of it is that the healer type would be kind of like white mage, while the shield type would be closer to scholar. However, it would be too strong if you could switch frequently during combat, so there will be restrictions on how often you can change.
Can you give us an example of what the proper utilization would be?
Y: When you're doing a raid dungeon with a white mage, for example, you might use the barrier stance, and you'd use the pure-healer type stance if you were paired with a scholar.
What are the names of the stances?
Y: These are tentative, but right now they're called "Tsukiyomi" and "Hoshiyomi" [[i'm guessing these will be something like "moon reading" and "star reading" in English]]. With each stance, the spells you can cast will change.
What kinds of spells will be replaced?
Y: The actual spells will stay the same, but the effects will change with the stance.
What about actions other than magic?
Y: It's a bit hard to explain because it's quite unique. Just before the game goes on sale, we'll be publishing a video which shows all of the new job actions, so you should check there for more specifics.
So tell us about how the cards are used.
Y: Simply drawing a card might be good to buff your allies, but you can also hold the card and combine it with the next card, so you'll have to make judgments in accordance with the current situation.
Will you need MP for the operation of drawing a card?
Y: We're still making final adjustments, and we could go either way on this one.
Will MP management in general still be important like with dark knight?
Y: Yes, since it is still a healer.
Machinist will install attachments and use turrets!
Tell us about some of the characteristics of machinists.
Y: This is a bit basic, but it's a ranged DPS that can apply various effects by using turrets placed on the field. For example, you can have a turret placed in attack mode used to damage an enemy, or placed in a defense mode used to buff your party. You'll use these selectively in accordance with the current situation, while using your gun to stack your own DPS.
As a ranged DPS with buffs, the battle style sounds similar to bard.
Y: I think it will be in similar standing.
So this will be a rival for those who continue to argue that bard is a buffer (laughs).
Y: Well, you won't hear that from me, so no comment. (laughs)
How do you earn additional attachments?
Y: These will be learned as actions as your level goes up.
Is it possible to instantly change attachments?
Y: Yes, it's instant.
What happens when you install an attachment?
Y: When you have an attachment installed, there will be a reservoir that generates charge prior to firing.
Will this be kind of like casting time for a magic spell?
Y: Yes. The power will be increased with the delay, but if you move in the middle of a charge, the skill will be cancelled. Therefore, when you do install an attachment, you should plan to attack from a more stationary position.
In situations that require you to frequently avoid abilities, this might be difficult.
Y: If you need increased mobility for evasion, it might be safer to move without attachments, at the expense of some potential DPS. The action to use a gun requires a buff tentatively called "Ammunition," with an action called "Reload" which will be used to stack that buff.
So without reloading you can't just keep shooting bullets?
Y: It's simply like ammo, so your judgment of when to reload might be important. Because there's also an ability called "Quick Reload," thinking about when and where to use these abilities in the rotation might be important, and it's one of the interesting aspects about machinist.
New jobs won't start from level 1.
What are the main stats of the new jobs?
Y: We also got this question from almost everyone in the foreign media... but as usual, we won't talk about this until just before we implement (laughs). We also got a bunch of questions about job specifications from the Japanese media.
Can you give us an example of any question?
Y: Something like "what level do the three new jobs start from?" "It's not level one, so can you give us the number?" - things to that effect.
And the answer to that is...?
Y: I can't say yet what the specific number will be, but it won't be level 1. It will be more on the higher end.
Is this something that's been happening more commonly recently?
Y: Those who have been playing MMORPGs from outside Japan recently have probably seen that with recent expansion packs, new classes are often not starting at level one. For example, in "World of Warcraft," when you start a new game, you can start at the state of the previous level cap by paying an additional fee. For "A Realm Reborn," if you could start by creating a character that was suddenly level 50, you'd be able to join more senior players right off the bat.
But of course, the three jobs that you're adding in Heavensward won't necessarily start from level 50 or 60.
Y: Yes, indeed that won't be the case. The new jobs won't be starting from level 50. For a title like World of Warcraft which has already been around for over ten years, such a service is sort of necessary. It's needed because otherwise it would be very hard to catch up to veteran players later on. On the other hand, since Heavensward is just the first expansion for FFXIV, it's quite a different situation. New players will need to clear the main scenario up through patch 2.55, but they will still be able to catch up with the top groups. The idea is that while players are still progressing through the story, there is no need for them to be at that level yet. For the new jobs, we want to balance having a shortcut through early progression with the need to learn the mechanics and train with the jobs.
How different are the questions you receive from different media?
Y: Since the number of MMORPGs in Japan is quite low, there will be differences. But even then there are things that both Japanese and overseas media and players are interested in, so many of the questions are common to both, while some articles are unique to one or the other.
The level three limit break for Astrologian is Celestial Stasis (Galaxy Stop)!
With Heavensward, you'll be replacing some of the limit breaks with unique ones - can you talk about any specifically?
Y: Level three limit breaks will be unique for all jobs. We plan to show the one for dragoon first, it's quite cool.
Do you plan to explain the performance of the limit breaks in something like a producer letter LIVE?
Y: I think we'll do something where we show the dragoon level three limit break at the end.
Will the level one and two limit breaks be the same as before?
Y: Yes, they'll be the same. Also, the existing level three limit breaks, like Last Bastion and Meteor, will each be one of the job-specific skills.
Normally, I'd expect the level three black mage limit break to be Meteor.
Y: Yes, even though black mage is my main, it will be a little lonely (laughs). Summoner is also a caster, but an original one will be added for it.
So Last Bastion for tanks will be specific to paladin or warrior.
Y: Yes, it'll be like that.
How will the bard's ability change?
Y: It will be changed to a DPS-type limit break. At level 3, perhaps it will look like a giant laser (laughs).
What about the ones for new jobs?
Y: For Astrologian, we wanted to somehow include Celestial Stasis (from Orran in Final Fantasy Tactics), but since the game needs to continue to advance in real time as an MMORPG, we couldn't really stop time....
So did you provide any instruction?
Y: I said that they should give it the feeling that time stopped and the allies were recovered. What actually happens is a bit over the top.
Will level 60 job-specific equipment be relatively difficult to acquire?
The equipment that can be obtained at level 60 will be exclusive like artifact armor?
Y: Yes, it's job-specific equipment.
Will the new job-specific equipment be obtained as new job quest rewards?
Y: It's not from job quests. I don't think it will be very difficult to acquire.
What's the theme for the new equipment designs?
Y: We were thinking to bring back some of the recognizable job images from the FF series' past. I also told the team to try to recreate a bit of the Yoshitaka Amano style.
Will the flow of obtaining higher and higher level items with each patch be the same as before?
Y: Increasing the upper limit will be the same as it has, but the overall range of available items will be wider than before. Along with that, the number of different steps of available equipment will be higher than before.
Are you planning to add a lot of equipment leading up to the highest item level?
Y: That's right. The equipment available in the hard mode of Alexander will be the strongest at the time that it's implemented in a patch, but because the item level difference between the new highest item level and the highest item level from the previous patch will be higher than in the past, there will be more of an emphasis on increasing your equipment level.
Alexander will be available about two weeks after release.
Tell us a bit more about lotting items in Alexander and how items will be obtained.
Y: If I talk about this in parts it would likely be misleading, so please hold on a bit longer until I can talk about the details more firmly. I think a lot of attention is being focused on the new item obtainment rules, but since Alexander won't be available for two weeks after the start of service of Heavensward, I hope you can enjoy character development until that point.
Why wait two weeks after the start of service?
Y: Since we have weekly limits applied to the acquisition of rewards, there's a feeling within the community that they have to rush through content to avoid wasting any potential loot as soon as new play modes are implemented. We kind of went back and forth on this with the development and management teams to decide whether we should let the high end community freely decide what to do. However, even within those communities there are some players who like to take things slowly at first, and we envisioned other players expressing frustration or impatience with those members to try to hurry through the content since everyone has differing play styles. Creating a point of contention like that within the community was something that both the development and management teams wanted to avoid, so that become the deciding factor in the end.
Like how players often skip movies to try to rush through activities.
Y: While it's good to allow players to be able to do so at their own discretion, at the same time there's a feeling from other members that new players should either skip cutscenes or they will go on ahead without them, and we're worried that players might become discouraged from this and as a result they won't enjoy some of the new content. This kind of impatience is the reason that we decided to keep Alexander closed for two weeks after the release of Heavensward. Of course, for those who are serious about raiding, they can spend the time thinking about new rotations for their existing jobs and try out various elements of new jobs. We were thinking whether we should make it two or three weeks, but we thought it would just be irritating after too long, so we decided that two weeks was appropriate.
By the way, is this why you end patch maintenance after the reset on Tuesday to prevent people from rushing to get things done?
Y: Yes, that's the main reason. Sometimes we make announcements that have the wrong time included and we've gotten a lot of feedback from players telling us to extend until after the weekly reset. Since the content resets at a certain time on Tuesday, we don't want people to feel forced to play just before the reset. With that same mindset, we decided to wait two weeks after the release date of Heavensward to open the raid and we'll plan to start a new Allagan Tomestone with a weekly limit after a bit more time. We'll talk more about this in upcoming producer letters LIVE.
New beast tribe daily quests will reward flying mounts!
With the implementation of new beast tribes, will there be new daily quests specific to those tribes? If so, will there be flying mounts that can be obtained as a reward?
Y: There will be. Of course, they will be flying mounts. However, we haven't yet decided when we will implement the daily quests for the new beast tribes. I think it will be part of either patch 3.05 or patch 3.1.
There will really be a wide variety of mounts, won't there?
Y: I wonder if the fat chocobo can also fly.... (laughs)
Is the reason for not releasing the beast tribe daily quests from the start also because of the repeating restrictions?
Y: It's the same kind of reason. Since there will be so many things to do with character development when Heavensward is released, a lot of the allowances for daily quests will tend to be wasted. We shifted the release of certain content to avoid giving players a reason to rush through things.
Will flying mounts be subject to attack like normal mounts?
Y: They will also be subject to attack. After you take flight, you'll be safe as long as you don't approach monsters on land.
Will there be a replacement for the Zodiac Weapon saga with new content to develop weapons?
Y: We're planning to start that in patch 3.1. The policy will still be the same that players will have to work diligently to improve their weapon, but we do want to change things up a bit from the previous Zodiac Weapons saga.
Will it not be the type where you're collecting things over time?
Y: It will be the same in that you're basically exchanging time spent for weapon strength. So things like drop rate are important, and we may also have parts where you're collecting things in a certain sequence. However, the purpose of the content will largely be the same. I know I'm being a bit ambiguous, but I can't say more without revealing more information, so please forgive me (laughs).
Snowboarding confirmed?! Maybe?!
Tell us about new elements planned for Gold Saucer.
Y: We'll continue to evolve Chocobo Racing and Triple Triad, but we've also started development of a new large piece of content. Of course there will be adjustments to Triple Triad tournaments and the addition of new cards, as well as the adjustment of the MGP obtained from each attraction. We have countless new elements that we're planning on releasing as part of Heavensward and the patch 3.X series that I haven't yet announced, with Gold Saucer updates being one of them. We'll put out more details in the future, but maybe I can give you some discreet answers now (laughs).
So what will the next major pillar of the Gold Saucer be? (laughs)
Y: Well, we've certainly been working on developing it, but the publicity team is giving me those eyes to not say more... (laughs)
There seems to be a fairly high demand for snowboarding....
Y: Well, say we were to implement snowboarding, I'd probably propose it myself (laughs).
Well you like it in real life, don't you? So if you were to propose it, what kind of content would you want to see?
Y: I'd ask them to allow you to create snowboards from wood (laughs). And then you could determine whether it would be rocker or camber based on the warp in the edges so that you could choose it for tricks or for alpine....
So there would need to be more than one course.
Y: Well if there wasn't both a halfpipe and alpine type course it wouldn't make much sense to select the board type.
And you'd also be able to create different designs with the board paint?
Y: Images used by the Scions of the Seventh Dawn in tapestries would make good illustrations on boards, and other FFXIV paint kind of elements would be good also (laughs).
When will you be adding new Triple Triad cards? Will they be included when Heavensward is released?
Y: We're planning to add at least around 20 cards with each large patch that we release. Heavensward will also add about 20 cards when it's released.
Will there be any benefits to collecting the cards?
Y: Well, kind of like collecting stamps, I think it's just about the satisfaction from the collecting itself as a hobby. So I don't think there will be much other benefit to collecting them.
Maybe achievements when you collect a certain number of cards?
Y: Well, because it's about collecting to satisfy yourself, we'll definitely have achievements. Other players that are interested in the cards might see your title from that achievement and think "oh, that person is a serious collector!" However, since this is a MMORPG and we are always adding new items, adding specific titles for collecting all of the cards is something that we're hesitant to implement. That's why, for example, we'll have achievements for certain milestones, like collecting 50 cards or collecting 100 cards.
Getting items for achievements is another major reason.
Y: Yes, it's been fun to watch all of the players absorbed in trying to obtain the Triple Triad cards. Many players kindly pointed out some of the problems with the tournament mode, so in addition to making adjustments by changing up the rules and rewards, we want to do other things to boost tournaments in game. We might also do some interesting things like hold real life Triple Triad tournaments when we have game events at different venues.
If you offer real cards for sale, I'd buy them no matter what the price (laughs).
Especially if you didn't know what cards were in the pack until you opened it.... (laughs).
Y: Hey, it's supposed to be a surprise (laughs).
Introducing "Scrips" for Crafters and Gatherers?
Please tell us about the new specialization elements for crafting.
Y: Well first I'd like to talk about some of the basic policies for crafter and gatherer updates as we move towards Heavensward.
Y: FFXIV has adopted the Armoury system which is quite different from other MMORPGs in that it allows one player to be anything. However, for crafters up until patch 2.5, rather than the system allowing you to be any of them, to a large extent for more hardcore crafters it required you to be all of them. If you worked on it steadily over time, it wasn't too challenging to grow each crafting class to level 50; however, since it's an MMORPG, we thought that we should slow some things down. However, as we started adding in higher difficulty recipes, such as the ones that require special books to learn, it got to an extreme situation where you had to have full equipment and everything leveled up. So while this was rewarding economically, we recognized that it was a tough situation for players who just wanted to have some fun while making products to sell. So we want to go back to the original plan that it's something to do at your own pace; that's the policy at the heart of our updates with specialists.
What about for gatherers?
Y: Although there won't be a specialist system for gathering, the advantages and disadvantages of gatherer are related to the maximum number of items you can collect, so everyone would go after the same items creating a surplus. As a result, it gets to a point where it's difficult to gather any items that crafters can use to make items useful for battle content. To increase the value of crafted items and implement a system for materia, we need to create some differences between individual gatherers. We don't want gil alone to be able to create a strong player, but it's also not good for balance if only battle content drops are the strongest, so we want to work on adjusting this balance gradually.
Y: For people that put a lot of time into it, one of the goals of Heavensward and later the patch 3.X series is that they will have a greater economic contribution. One of the new systems is the concept of Specialists for crafter classes. Like before, it will still be possible to develop all of the crafter classes without limit to level 60. After you finish training, you'll be able to choose a profession to qualify as a Specialist which may provide a special action or special recipes. It will also be possible to choose multiple specializations.
Will you be able to switch Specialist qualifications?
Y: You will be able to switch but it will take some time.
It sounds like things will be shaken up quite a bit for crafters and gatherers.
Y: We want to narrow down people's focus so that rather than wanting to do everything, they instead want to focus on really working on refining just one class. In Heavensward, we'll also be implementing a mechanism like Allagan Tomestones for crafters and gatherers in addition to battle classes, so that you'll have another way to acquire new equipment and collect items.
Will it have a name like... Allagan Tomestone of Farming?
Y: This is tentative, but we're calling the crafter currency "red coins" and "blue coins." Unlike retainer venture tokens, these aren't actual items, but rather they will be stored in counters like Allagan Tomestones. Right now, the only way to get the best parameters to try the toughest recipes and gathering points is through forbidden materia melding. For those who are aiming for the top, we'll leave the fastest route to be the same as it is now, but we'll have a second option for those players who keep coming back each day with this scrip system to create a variety of ways to specialize crafters and gatherers.
How will you obtain the new currency?
Y: There will be content implemented in Heavensward which makes non-HQ items useful for something. The currency will be collected through a new concept called "collection goods."
What kind of useful non-HQ items will you be adding for gatherers?
Y: For gatherers, we'll focus on the lore for each region to allow for a rare item to be collected in a certain area out in the field. It'll be tough to find the items if you don't know the lore.
I imagine the new currency will be involved in acquiring the lore?
Y: Yes. There will also be a "talisman" system that we'll be adding. By using the talisman, hidden gathering nodes will show up. This is one of the things we'll use to specialize gatherers, as there will be different talismans for each region, which will increase the individual differences between each gatherer.
In the past you've used these for teleportation, will it be an item like that?
Y: If you use the talisman, a special buff will be given which will allow you to find special gathering nodes as long as the effect is active, it will be something like that.
So you expect that different players will be collecting a variety of rare items from different locations.
Y: We want to expand the variety of gathered items horizontally while leaving the apex in the same place that you can get to over time. As a result, we think there will be more value in items that both gatherers and crafters can produce. We'll be implementing these systems with Heavensward and we'll work throughout the patch 3.X series to achieve balance.
Will company crafting be related to these new systems?
Y: It's likely that materials you'll need, such as for airships, will be items obtained from locations like those.
Airship content will be one of the main pillars in Heavensward.
You've mentioned it before on occasion, but the company crafting system on the whole has been shrouded in secrecy. Is there anything new you can talk about now?
Y: Company crafting is production content that you'll be able to enjoy from the release of Heavensward at a basement workshop installed in your Free Company house. There are two different systems for what you can make here. One is the house itself, where you'll be able to create original designs. Using materials that people gather, you'll be able to make roofs and exterior walls. We'll also be adding new things in patches such as the ability to create a house like a weapon shop.
Will the house be built on existing land?
Y: It's possible to just replace parts of existing houses, so you can kind of think of it as glamour prisms for housing.
What's the other type of crafting?
Y: The other type is the ability to make airships called "airship crafting." From the start of Heavensward, each free company will be able to own four airships. The graphics of the airships are not fixed and they are made up of four different parts which change their look and performance.
Will there be huge types for each part?
Y: The actual specifications are a bit more complicated, but for the sake of explanation, there are parts like the engine, fuel tank, and sail, which each have different parameters. For example, some engines can travel faster or slower and use more or less fuel. Additionally, the airship has a rank which will continue to grow. If the airship rank is low, you won't be able to use high grade parts.
How will you use the airship?
Y: There are uncharted areas of the sky map to which you can send your airship to investigate - this will raise the rank of your airship and strengthen it, and possibly bring back some items. In a later update, players themselves will be able to board the airship to go on adventures and discover islands. The content of the airship system and exploring the sky map will be central to the patch 3.X series.
How will the performance of airships relate to the success or failure of the sky map exploration?
Y: Each part of the performance will be important. For example, if you have an ultra-high performance engine installed, the time it takes to explore the sky map will be shorter because it will be able to move from home to the location much faster. However, it will consume much more fuel.
What's the disadvantage to consuming a lot of fuel?
Y: This is just an example, but you'll need a much larger fuel tank which will occupy a lot more space in the airship, which means you'll have less available space to obtain and return found items. Using a smaller fuel tank with that engine would reduce your airship's overall range so you wouldn't be able to dispatch it as far on the sky map.
Will the items that you can obtain from the dispatch destination differ with the small or large engine?
Y: We're thinking that players can find out what works and what doesn't by building different kinds of airships and comparing results. Since you can replace the parts any time, I think there will be a lot of trial and error. At first, you'll be able to use them to collect items around the sky map, and starting with the next patch, you'll be able to board your airships and look for islands that you've found on the sky map. One of the next phases will involve arming the airship as a battleship, so we have a lot of different concepts for play in the skies.
That should greatly increase the amount of play options. Will the base of airship activity be the free company house?
Will the landing site be built somewhere at the house?
Y: The landing site won't be there, but we're currently working on the cutscene for the airship taking off.
Larger free companies are likely to build four airships rather quickly.
Y: If you're building airships to obtain just ultra-rare items you may not be satisfied, so you can also make versatile airships which can come back with large amounts of items. By the way, the four airship maximum is just what we have planned for release, we expect to continue to increase that number in the future.
Tell us about its uses other than the sky map from the patch 3.X series.
Y: Players will be able to ride on the airships to explore field areas based on the data they collected when they dispatched the ships.
Will there be islands that you can find that, for example, gatherers can enjoy?
Y: Yes, there will be those kinds of islands, and there will be islands full of NMs you can subdue - we have a lot of ideas in mind.
Will the sky map areas be treated as so-called public fields?
Y: The term "public field" has been met with mixed reception so I'll avoid saying one way or the other, but we believe that we were able to make these encounters both random and surprising.
Can you give an example of something that might happen?
Y: Well, you might go to a site that another free company has already investigated and find them in the midst of struggling against a giant monster (laughs).
As players share their research, it's likely that rare items won't stay rare for long.
Y: We wanted to include some elements of randomness. For example, you might have the parameters of your airship adjusted with the aim of reaching a certain island, but something might happen during your flight which forces you to make an emergency landing on another island (laughs).
So random elements will come into play.
Y: That's right. You'll be able to respond to those random elements with battleships that you can create in a future update. Earlier, we said we wanted to develop things like sky battles... taking your airship to the skies and the activities there is a major theme throughout the patch 3.X series.
Will members from outside the Free Company also be able to ride in the airship?
Y: Of course, players who aren't in the free company will be able to board the airships as "guests" or "mercenaries" to participate in searching the sky islands. We'll also have mechanisms implemented that leverage the party finder to recruit combatants, things like that.
Future patches will have more content than ever before!
What is your content plan after the release of Heavensward? Once it's released, will you still be publishing patches about once every three months?
Y: I'm going to try to maintain that pace as much as possible. However, each major patch will be on an even larger scale than today, so it might increase a bit. We'll continue to consider how to optimize by dividing up content into different updates to make sure we're keeping the pace up. There are many elements we're working on with development such as Gold Saucer, battle content, crafting, gathering, PvP, and main scenario, so I'd like to continue updating each of those categories evenly. However, since we'll be adding two new instanced dungeons in each patch, for example, in addition to all the other content, I think it's going to take more man-hours on the whole.
And at the same time you have to continue working on content farther out in the future (laughs)...
Y: Yeah, we've already begun development on the raid dungeon that will replace Crystal Tower....
Will you continue alternating between that raid dungeon and Alexander like you had been with Crystal Tower and Bahamut's Coils?
Y: Yes, we'll continue the alternating release pattern.
Will you be changing any of the rules for existing content when Heavensward is released?
Y: With the current Duty Finder, roles and the number of players is fixed, so we're considering allowing smaller numbers of people.
So are you changing your current position on existing battle content?
Y: The idea so far was that if you go back to past content you could invite friends or other new players to help out, but I'm thinking people might want to go in with smaller groups for a challenge. To go along with the patch 3.X series we'll also be introducing other elements for players to train, so we may make adjustments to these dungeons at that time.
What about primal battles? Will there be a possibility that you'll add something even more difficult than the extreme Titan battle?
Y: We're working at a blistering pace to keep up with the regular update cycle. We've considered putting in something like a "time attack" some day, but not just yet. If the demand is there, though, we may be able to add something like a super extreme Titan (laughs).
Well it's been fun. We went on for a long time today, so thank you very much!
Y: I spoke about a lot of the new elements in Heavensward today, but I'll continue to sprinkle a lot of new information between now and the final release date like equipment details at producer letters LIVE, so please stay tuned!