Another patch, another set of interviews with Yoshida. This one’s with Famitsu, focused squarely on patch 3.5. It’s a pretty long one. Although they didn’t provide a date, based on some of the responses, it was clearly held prior to the Fan Festival in Tokyo. Regardless of that, it still contains a bunch of new information (most of which will probably be talked about in the preliminary patch notes). My translation follows, as always if you see anything that looks questionable please let me know and I’ll take another look.
The Far Edge of Fate (hereafter, patch 3.5) will finally be implemented on January 17 as the last large scale patch before the release of the second expansion pack Stormblood. As many are already aware, patch 3.5 elements will be implemented in several parts ahead of Stormblood’s release. Because of this, we discussed not only the new content of the update, but also the planned flow for the whole patch. We spoke to Naoki Yoshida, producer and director of FFXIV, and asked questions about gearing up for the release of a new expansion pack.
The interviewers were able to see a preview trailer for patch 3.5 prior to the interview. Although the content of that trailer came up several times throughout our discussion with Yoshida, the trailer we saw was an unfinished version that had not yet received Yoshida’s final approval. Because of this, please understand that there may be cases where the discussion below differs from the actual content of the trailer.
Various people and events will be standing at the “edge” in the story of this patch
Can you express the overall feeling of patch 3.5 in one word?
Yoshida: One word… that’s tough (laughs).
In the sense that the 3.X series will be completed, I think the word “finale” is appropriate.
Yoshida: Is it a finale?... well… (laughs) a lot of things will definitely be settled. Some things that were hinted at in the 2.X series will be revived, as well as some that have been around since the original FFXIV. However, patch 3.5 is also the first step towards the next story, so it’s hard to describe in a word.
Oh, you also mentioned at the 33rd Producer Letter that the word “edge” in the English title of patch 3.5 would be important.
Yoshida: In the trailer for patch 3.5 with the scene for Omega Weapon, I think “edge” can mean a variety of things. Although you’ve already found out the role of a particular character, in one scene they must take their place, and things like that will occur. Also, it has a meaning like “on the verge” for the story events, where “edge” is symbolic of the idea that everyone is in a volatile place right now in the current circumstances…it should give that kind of image.
So it has various implications.
Yoshida: In patch 2.5, the English title “Before the Fall” had a meaning like “just before the crash” which was meant to show the situation that built up to what was coming. This time, there are a variety of things around what goes to which edge. Some characters are heading in a good direction, while others are falling in the wrong direction. Also, as we move toward Stormblood, we have to take some steps forward beyond that edge, so in that sense, I think “edge” is a keyword.
Is the word “edge” meant to remind us of events like the chaos in Ul’dah that occurred in patch 2.5?
Yoshida: It will be a new development (laughs).
Next, let’s talk about the schedule for the release of patch 2.5. Aside from the main scenario, what other content is coming?
Yoshida: The renewal of the Diadem islands exploration will be released to coincide with part 2 of “The Far Edge of Fate.”
After part 1 is released, what will be the intervals for the releases through the patch 3.5X series?
Yoshida: Patch 3.55 will be implemented between part 1 and part 2 of patch 3.5. With patch 2.5, patch 2.55 was implemented as Part 2, but that’s not what we’re doing with patch 3.55.
What elements will be added in patch 3.55?
Yoshida: It will include the next step of the anima weapon upgrades and the end of season 3 of The Feast. Part 2 will be implemented some time after these elements are introduced in patch 3.55
Nero holds the key as the story moves on
With Zenos yae Galvus appearing near the start of the trailer, how much of the story will focus on him in the upcoming main scenario?
Yoshida: It’s just a glimpse of the future, although I spoke with the staff that Zenos might be expected if we show him like that.
In the video, there were some scenes where a kind of primal was being summoned as well.
Yoshida: The trailer was produced just from the main scenario of Part 1 and Part 2 as a highlight reel. There’s quite a lot of content we can’t discuss until we get past the Fan Festival 2016 in Tokyo and the keynote at Frankfurt, so those have been excluded from the video. There are scenes that will surprise players that aren’t in the trailer…I’m sorry that I couldn’t show those yet (laughs).
Also in the video, it seems like there will be some kind of development like the decision to attack Baelsar’s Wall after a counsel meeting of the Grand Companies.
Yoshida: The trailer movie was produced with some of the predictions people might make in mind, so not everything may be as it seems (laughs). Whether it is edited to be blunt or…
That’s true, there hasn’t been much that’s been straightforward (laughs).
Yoshida: In the trailer for patch 3.4, for example, we intentionally edited it to make Urianger look like he might be a traitor. Things like this are fun to ponder and discuss, so we are careful during the editing process. Also, it might be worth pausing the movie to check the images that flash by quickly near the end of the patch 3.5 trailer one at a time for some additional hints.
The main scenario is also positioned to start uncovering some of the mysteries around Stormblood, so will the setting point towards future developments more clearly?
Yoshida: Yeah, it’s structured like that. The path to Stormblood began at the Fan Festival 2016 in Las Vegas, then moved on to the show in Tokyo. After part 1 of patch 3.5 is released, part 2 will be implemented after the show in Europe. As I mentioned earlier, at the Fan Festivals we’re focused more on the future than on patch 3.5. However, as patch 3.5 is released we’ll be inching closer to that future. And once you play through part 2 of patch 3.5, those hidden elements about the future should become clear, so it’s all made to flow together. It’s not that the information from the Fan Festivals is directly connected to the main story, but you can enjoy it as another thing to read about and help understand the story better.
Ah, that makes sense.
Yoshida: So don’t worry that if you haven’t watched the Fan Festival 2016 addresses that you won’t know the main scenario in the future (laughs). New information will be announced at the keynotes, but there will also be surprises as the patches are released.
In the main visual for patch 3.5, the Tupsimati is shown centrally with the members of the Scions including the Warrior of Light arranged around it. What was meaning behind the composition?
Yoshida: The basic idea was that the Warrior of Light and the promise made are central.
Actually, it’s been a while since the Warrior of Light has appeared in the main imagery.
Yoshida: It’s true, we only use the Warrior of Light at the most important times. For example, with patch 2.5, the theme image at the time had the Warrior of Light on one side and an Ascian on the other. I wanted to have something like that this time, but we wanted it to look fresh as well.
What about Alphinaud and Alisaie on either side of the Warrior of Light?
Yoshida: The brother and sister may not have completely seen eye to eye in patch 3.4, but at least they were able to reconcile their differences. I think that it will be up to these two to lead Eorzea into the future on behalf of Louisoix.
When I saw Alisaie in the trailer, she set herself apart from Alphinaud, and I got the impression that she might be a politician-type.
Yoshida: Actually, she’s the type who will look to act rather than talk, not a politician (smiles). To symbolize this, there will be scenes where she specifically emphasizes her distaste for politics (in the main story).
And for Yda and Papalymo on the bottom?
Yoshida: As part of the revival of the story from the original FFXIV era, I wanted to dig into the members of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn as much as possible. Yda and Papalymo played a role in patch 3.4 but we haven’t really dug into their character yet, so the scenario for patch 3.5 was shaped with that in mind.
For Yda and Papalymo, what’s their standing in all this?
Yoshida: It might be nice to uncover what kind of relationship they have and why they fight with each other (laughs).
I expect that (laughs). Also Nero tol Scaeva appeared and I thought “he’s finally back!” It seems like he’ll be involved with Omega Weapon in the main scenario?
Yoshida: Right, in the trailer you got to see Omega Weapon running. There’s no doubt when you hear Nero say the word “Omega,” that he’s talking about his new toy, if you take that at face value. If you’ve played through the Crystal Tower raid dungeons to the end, you’ve found out that Nero is actually a surprisingly righteous man with a pure thirst for knowledge to satisfy his curiosity. Although he has those aspects, he’s moved by circumstance to take sides. As a rival mind to Cid, he may influence beliefs, and you’ll be able to see more in the main story. I hope players look forward to his interactions with the active characters in the main scenario.
He may not always be welcomed (laughs).
Yoshida: The cold glance from Yugiri is obviously not something good coming from a woman (laughs).
I like Nero’s character as a contrast to Cid.
Yoshida: Then please focus on his interactions with Cid. For Nero’s part, we’ve already decided how his character will develop in the future.
Baelsar’s Wall will be integrated with the main scenario
Will the two instanced dungeons this time be related to the main scenario?
Yoshida: Sohm Al (Hard) will be a side quest independent of the main scenario. As for Baelsar’s Wall, it will appear integrated completely with the main scenario. For that reason, we introduced Baelsar’s Wall as part of the main scenario rather than as an instanced dungeon in the trailer.
It certainly did feel that way.
Yoshida: Although it will be an instanced dungeon that will go into the expert roulette, it will also fit in perfectly with the main story. There are people wearing the uniforms of Grand Companies in places like imperial bases, so with things like that you should pay attention to how that might have happened.
What is the difficulty of these instanced dungeons?
Yoshida: We got a lot of feedback that The Great Gubal Library (Hard) and Xelphatol that were added in patch 3.4 were just right, so it’s basically around that difficulty. If you have good members, you should be able to plow through it like a time attack, and on the flipside, even those unfamiliar with the dungeons should be able to clear it without much trouble if they take it one by one. The mechanics last time were also set up in a reasonable way, so we’re thinking you should be able to play with about the same level of tension this time. That said, since there was an item level update in patch 3.4, it might feel easier for the highest level players who have improved their equipment. It’s tough to compare simply, but I’m basically saying that it’ll be as similar to last time as we can make it.
What’s the feeling in Baelsar’s Wall like?
Yoshida: I think a lot of people got tired of running straight through Praetorium to the final battles, so this time it’s set up so you won’t be running around as much (laughs).
Does that mean it will be tough to pull enemies together?
Yoshida: Rather, the Warriors of Light won’t need to move as much. Of course, we’re doing some new things in terms of mechanics. Also, as nostalgia for some older fans of the FF series, you’ll see some design based on Magitek weapons as well.
I thought I saw a prototype Magitek armor among the screenshots released the other day
Yoshida: It might be interesting to think about that image in other ways.
Can you confirm that Baelsar’s Wall isn’t eight people like Praetorium was and it’s still the normal four participants?
Yoshida: Yeah, the last dungeon for patch 3.0 was also for four people. I don’t think we’ll be making instanced dungeons for eight people (laughs).
Scathach will be the counterpart to Mhach’s Ozma
Will you be able to get items to enhance scripture equipment from Dun Scaith?
Will it be similar to last time that you’ll start with the upgrade materials for armor and accessories?
Yoshida: Yeah. There will be weekly quests added like the one added when the Crystal Tower series was completed. You’ll have to clear the “Shadows of Mhach” series of raid dungeons and you’ll be able to select an upgrade material as a reward.
When will you add the upgrade item for Scripture weapons?
Yoshida: I’m thinking we’ll add it in patch 3.55, or by part 2 at the latest. Also, as we move forward we’ll increase the weekly limit on Scripture to 900 per week like we did with Poetics. The idea is so that people can have main and secondary jobs prepared for Stormblood.
When will you be increasing the limitation on Scripture acquisition?
Yoshida: Looking back and thinking about the feedback we got last time, I think the timing was a little late, so it should be a bit earlier than the timing of when we increased the Poetics limit (May 14, 2015 – 40 days before the release of Heavensward).
Will it be worth collecting armor from Dun Scaith in preparation for Stormblood?
Yoshida: It might be good for those who want to gear up secondary jobs instead of putting the time and effort into Scripture equipment. It should also be good for those who aren’t interested in trying out savage Alexander.
In other words, it should probably be treated the same way as armor obtained from World of Darkness in the Crystal Tower series.
Yoshida: Yeah, it’s the same.
So the item level is 260…?
Yoshida: I will neither confirm nor deny that (laughs).
What kind of bosses will appear in Dun Scaith?
Yoshida: As you saw in the trailer, the first boss is Deathgaze. Although we’ve reproduced the fight on the Airship (like when it appeared in FFVI), the part where the railing breaks is specific to FFXIV (laughs). When you rush into battle, it will start with the railings being destroyed.
We were wondering if the railings being broken indicated a system like either the airship tilting or wind blowing?
Yoshida: It’ll be the wind blowing. You’ll have to be careful of Deathgaze’s position. That said, even if you fall off the airship, you can still be raised as you’ll be pulled back up to the deck unconscious. One time I went in with 24 people and we were quickly down to 6, that was rough.
So we’re not just watching the battle after falling off?
Yoshida: By the way, Diabolos, who previously appeared in the scenario, and Ferdiad, who appeared in Amdapor Keep (Hard), will also be located here.
Scathach as well?
Yoshida: Yes, Scathach will also be here.
Which boss appears second?
Yoshida: The second boss is Ferdiad who I just mentioned.
Presumably he’s powered up quite a bit since his days in Amdapor Keep (Hard)?
Yoshida: The mechanics will be quite elaborate.
Previously Ferdiad summoned slimes to bind players in place, will he still use mechanics like that?
Yoshida: As a clown, he has a whole set of mechanics like various magic tricks. As one the forms, a lot of the mechanics will involve the appearance of Atomos and a sort of juggling act.
I got the impression that there will be a lot of moving to different areas during the battle with Scathach.
Yoshida: You’ll certainly have to move during the battle, but it won’t be to the point that a black mage, for example, can never use Leylines and would get irritated. That said, I think you’ll probably still wipe at first. It has some elements from the Calofisteri fight from Mhach, so it’s pretty tough (laughs).
You might get a lot of feedback saying “it’s too tough!” right after implementation.
Yoshida: Maybe right afterwards, but hopefully it’s a feeling like “Ozma was like this.”
Looking at the overall difficulty, is it closer to Weeping City of Mhach or to Void Ark?
Yoshida: The difficulty was made to be along the lines of Weeping City of Mhach.
Regarding the story, will the story with Diabolos also be resolved?
Yoshida: Yeah. When we first introduced Diabolos to FFXIV, we got a lot of feedback like “thank you for making it, but it’s wasted as just the boss of an instanced dungeon!” so we tried something new.
With the Shadows of Mhach story this time, will any more about the void and the 13 mirror images of the world became covered in darkness?
Yoshida: There will be a cutscene that goes into more detail that appears as part of patch 3.5.
Yoshida: As mentioned in patch 3.4, there is another world that’s a mirror of our world with Warriors of Light on the other side. Of course, they are also trying to fight the darkness; however, in the case of the First world, for example, the light was too strong. As a result, the Warriors of Light pushed the darkness away and the world was swallowed by light.
So it was.
Yoshida: On the flipside, we haven’t said much about the void yet, but there, the dark attribute is too strong and light can’t compete, so it is swallowed by the darkness. The result of this… well, I can’t tell you because it will be discussed in patch 3.5.
(Laughs) Well, at least the day will finally come that we’ll get to hear more.
Yoshida: You’ll understand better once you complete a certain quest.
Extreme Zurvan to be more difficult than Extreme Sophia?
Regula van Hydrus and Unukalhai are mysterious figures. Will their stories be settled in relationship with the three gods in this patch?
Yoshida: It will be totally completed. You’ll finally understand everything, including the identity of Unukalhai.
Do you think that will that lead to any future developments?
Yoshida: To connect it forward… maybe, but I think the players who follow the story will be very pleased (laughs).
I’m really looking forward to it (laughs). Once the story of the gods is complete, will Krile join with the activities of the Scions?
Yoshida: Yeah, that’s right.
How hard will it be to defeat the extreme version of Zurvan?
Yoshida: I think it will be more difficult than the extreme version of Sophia. There are many people who have completed the savage version of Alexander, so I wonder if it will be a challenge for them. Of course, the extreme Zurvan battle isn’t only for those who are taking on the high end raids, so it’s not as tough as the raids, but it will definitely be more challenging than Sophia. Since we’re adding the ability to recruit parties across worlds this time, I hope people will make use of that more than Raid Finder.
In extreme Sophia, she gave an indication of her next mechanic with the dialogue. Will you have some kindness like that included this time as well?
Yoshida: Since Zurvan is a devil, not a goddess, there will be no kindness (laughs). If you find it difficult, you should be able to raise your item level a bit through Dun Scaith, but it is meant to be tough.
In the first part of the battle, the fight is against a restrained boss. Will he transition to a point where the restraints are removed and perform some usual powerful attack as you move to the second part of the battle?
Yoshida: It’ll be fun to play. With the battle map gone, I wonder what will happen? (laughs)
The structure collapsed and the map changed to a fan shape.
Yoshida: So what happens after that… (laughs). That included, we’re trying new things this time around.
There have been a lot of circular fields recently, so the shape this time is unusual.
Yoshida: It’s like a baumkuchen [[Yoshi plz]], isn’t it (laughs)? As far as what comes after that, please enjoy it.
Although the main reward is a weapon, can anything else be acquired there?
Yoshida: Accessories will be acquired elsewhere.
What about them?
Yoshida: The Proto-Ultima battle that was enjoyed as a special battle at Fan Festival 2016 will be the key to that.
Yoshida: After we implemented Odin from the previous Fan Festivals, matchmaking gradually decreased over time. This time, as a challenging battle for 24 people, we’ve changed things up quite a bit since last time.
It will be added to the existing content?
Yoshida: That’s still a secret for now!
But if you defeat Proto-Ultima, you’ll obtain a high item level accessory?
Yoshida: That’s right.
One of the questions asked at Las Vegas was for a ring to be added as a reward to an extreme primal battle, but he didn’t expect that desire to come true.
Yoshida: Well, it might be an earring? (laughs).
Come on, which accessory is it?
Yoshida: I won’t say just yet – it could be any of the parts (laughs).
Fine, we’ll wait (laughs). Will a new bird mount added as well?
Yoshida: Yeah, we’re preparing it. [[for clarity, this references Zurvan, not Proto-Ultima]]
Once you obtain all of the bird mounts, including the one from Zurvan, will there be a final one to collect?
Yoshida: You’ll be able to get a Phoenix mount which actually looks really fantastic.
It was nice to hear the BGM for riding Kirin, will you have that for Phoenix as well?
Yoshida: There will cutscenes added this time also, so please check those out. Those who have worked hard to collect the bird mounts so far should get plan to fight the extreme Zurvan repeatedly. By the way, we’ll be making it a bit easier to get the bird mounts that were implemented in previous patches.
Anima Weapons will be updated twice more
Will we be able to bring the item level of anima weapons up to 270 with the rest of the quests?
Yoshida: There will be two more stages of the Anima weapon.
Will it be implemented much later on?
Yoshida: No, it would be better to get it implemented sooner.
The last trial was pretty simple to complete and it felt like a gift.
Yoshida: I thought that would be good after the ordeal that came before it. If you’ve gotten through that, you should be able to get through the next part.
Like with the Zodiac Weapon, you want them to stay relevant until the release of Stormblood?
Yoshida: I’d like folks to have them a bit earlier than with the 2.X series…but that may be tough (laughs). At least you won’t need Allagan Tomestones of Lore anymore.
Speaking of Allagan Tomestones, what will you be doing with the fairly high difficult of obtaining the Umbrite and Aether Oil that are needed for existing Anima weapon quests?
Yoshida: We’ll be relaxing the requirement in patch 3.5, sorry for the wait.
Once you have the final version of the weapon in hand, will it look good?
Yoshida: It’ll be worth the suffering. With Zodiac and Anima, we went with the idea of having players go around to participate in various content. Considering what we just talked about, I was thinking it might be fun to have a system like the item level growing one at a time. However, there’s no system like that for items in FFXIV yet.
Yoshida: With the way it’s currently set up, you hand in all of the necessary items at the same time and the weapon is strengthened at that point. With the pains involved in that process, it can be difficult to stay motivated because of the lack of reward. If the challenge is to collect items that drop with a low probability, it can be enjoyable to think like “how many more?,” but it can be boring if it’s just Allagan Tomestones. In the case of Lore, if you calculated the number you still need, it can feel tedious, because you need something like 4000 more, so we definitely need some new elements.
For Lore, I counted the number of tomestones needed by the number of times I needed to clear the Aetherochemical Research Facility (laughs).
Yoshida: The path of going through a variety of content to strengthen the weapons has come to its limit. Even if we devise different forms of this, the experience itself is still the same. I want to do something new and break from the current situation. It’s a bit tough to say right now, so for now, let’s culminate this series, and suffice it to say we’ll be starting completely new series next time around.
The next weapon development content involves the forbidden land Eureka, so that may happen naturally anyway.
Yoshida: I can’t say anything more on that just yet, but I can say the completed weapons this time will be the fanciest ones yet, so I hope you enjoy projecting those onto other weapons.
Flashier than the Zodiac Weapons Zeta?
Yoshida: Even flashier.
Diadem Island should have a combination of spontaneity and objectives
For the Sea of Clouds, please explain to us again the renewal of Diadem Islands.
Yoshida: For the original exploration of the Diadem islands, looking over the global version of FFXIV, we saw that Japanese players had the longest cumulative average number of billing months. Including the original FFXIV era and those who started when A Realm Reborn was released, Japan is where the game is the most popular in the world for continuing play. With FFXIV, a lot of the content feels like you need to play a certain way and many players felt tired of repeating the same pattern. Naturally, it’s not typical to keep playing one game for three years. Moreover, because FFXI has a strong impression in Japan, with the number of players who started FFXIV without experiencing other MMORPGs, we started seeing isolation of values.
Is that so?
Yoshida: Even among staff, the same thing happened. Among the staff playing FFXI and Ragnarok Online, they discussed the desire to just hang around with other players, fighting monsters, chatting, and getting item drops. Were players from today’s era really not interested in content like that? Those were the kinds of argument that were made.
Yoshida: Some of us said we’d like to try it once. There was also the opposite opinion that it’s not so much whether you like or dislike loot-based games, but the amount of time it takes to play. While we were in production with the last Diadem, the staff who were play testing were saying “is there really anyone who will play this with it being so troublesome?” The idea of it being “jammed with monsters” and that “monsters would drop loot upon defeat” seemed contradictory and we were very divided even within the development team. Then we decided to put in some guiding elements like defeating particular monsters, but we didn’t want to make it too troublesome so it was really only a half measure.
So what did you do?
Yoshida: In the end, I decided to move forward with the initial specifications and told the team that we would leave it up to the players. I decided that because to really change it we would have had to take significant actions, and we planned to continue development into the future where we could drastically shake things up if needed. However, because the rules were too simple, players would just gather at an efficient hunt spot and keep hunting there.
So it was a tough situation.
Yoshida: Some don’t like the repetitive nature, while others felt that it was a casual way to play the game. Personally, I didn’t really dislike the repetitive nature of it (laughs). However, for people who have been playing FFXIV for many years and are involved with the high difficulty raids, they felt that it was uninteresting to just keep attacking enemies with maximum DPS and no mechanics. There were also many people who wanted more of an exploratory feeling. We received a lot of feedback that entry for gatherers should be separate. Additionally, as a result of the design mistakes and the item level of the equipment reward, we had to make a two-step adjustment to tone things down. We took a whole lot of learnings out of this.
And decided on a sweeping reform.
Yoshida: We went too far by leaving rules out altogether. Not having any guidelines in the content was too much of a change, too quickly for those who were already accustomed to the FFXIV game cycle. If the whole game was like that to begin with, we could assume those elements would be enjoyed, but then FFXIV wouldn’t have been as popular. So after discussing with the staff, we decided to give up on the current version.
Based on all of that, how will the renewal be treated with this patch?
Yoshida: For the exploration, House Haillenarte will issue commands while participating in the content. For example, you might receive a communication that tells you to search point A and then to defeat or acquire something in a certain area. Different instructions will be issued continuously. By cooperating with the eight players who were matched, if you complete the tasks from House Haillenarte, you’ll earn a certain amount of spoils. Afterwards, you can get items in exchange for the spoils back at the home base. Which type of items you receive are determined at that point, and you might see something like “by collecting more spoils, item level 260 equipment can be obtained.” With the defined game rules in place, you can expect drops from monsters as well.
The feeling will be changed up.
Yoshida: On top of that, while it’s a bit different from FATEs, there will be something similar that occurs across the whole area, and you can obtain bonuses and spoils from that by participating a certain amount. If you want to proceed and don’t mind leaving the current content, the eight players will be presented with the option. On the flipside, if you want to stay in the area for a while, you can remain there by asking the members if they want to stay.
If something is about to pop, that might be a good suggestion.
Yoshida: This will be a non-alliance type of event for everyone around, and when you get there you should talk to each other. It’s developed in such a way that at least four parties will need to participate and work through the mechanics together, so it’s not a conventional FFXIV type of boss battle.
What kind of mechanics are they?
Yoshida: As a first-generation MMORPG type of example, four parties will be headed to different places in the same dungeon and wait in front of a door. By reaching a certain arrangement, the door the boss lurks behind will open… it’s along those lines.
How frequently does the event occur?
Yoshida: There are conditions, but it’s a secret when it will happen (laughs). There are various parts that you can enjoy, including things like FATEs as I mentioned, so please search around for different things. However, since your goals are clearly shown, it’s OK if you just want to go around and follow the objectives set by House Haillenarte. Otherwise, you can talk with your party and decide to do other things during the mission, so I hope this encourages communication among party members. We don’t want to deny traditional game design, as I think there are interesting elements that can be brought into FFXIV.
Has the map’s structure been changed significantly?
Yoshida: Thinking about the Diadem as a set of different environments like before would be accurate. However, what you do on that map is quite different. After seeing the feedback we receive after the release, we’ll take that into account for the production of the forbidden land Eureka. By the way, from a planning perspective, Eureka is different from the Diadem islands.
What items can be earned through the event?
Yoshida: I’ll keep that secret for now.
Will you be able to participate based on objectives as a gatherer?
Yoshida: When you enter as a party of gatherers, a unique one will appear. Of course, you can ignore your mission and go to collect on the field without any issues, and members can also talk with each other to collect certain items. You can also change inside the area from gatherer to battle class.
Oh, it was like that before.
Yoshida: All the members who are participating as gatherers can change to battle classes once they’ve completed the mission. Also, you can do gathering at your favorite places. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m trying to fight against the event feeling “boring.” Compared to North America and Europe where the maximum number of users keeps growing, the online gaming market in Japan seems pretty close to its limit, so it’s a challenge to get more players interested. On the other hand, if we have no new players and only those who have been around for a while, the feeling of “getting bored” will also increase. Stormblood will bring back leveling and have a new main scenario, so I think that should bring back a lot of players’ excitement. However, on that note, we need to encourage and nurture that excitement, and challenge ourselves to keep things fresh even if they are working well at the moment. So, recently, I’ve been doing some forward thinking about the direction we want to take.
Yoshida: The profitability and the overall user base continue to increase, so I think we are currently on a good route. However, I still want to consider how to overcome the “boredom.” It’s an interesting challenge to have as my career as there are relatively few other examples of services that continue on this scale in this day and age. Stormblood will have as much content as a standalone RPG, so you can look forward to that, but I’m twisting my head right now thinking about how to create unique experiences rather than simply expanding the experience horizontally.
Will there be new materials you can obtain as gatherers?
Yoshida: Yeah, there will.
Does that mean there will be new recipes as well?
Yoshida: It will include glamour recipes. I won’t go into detail about Lucis and so on, but there will be main tools with effects implemented. They look pretty good, so that should motivate you. Good luck with your achievement (laughs).
Item delivery was related to obtaining the Lucis mainhand tools in the past.
Yoshida: Last time it was quite involved; this time it will be a straight achievement reward.
Searching across worlds with the Party Finder
[i]I think the way people enjoy the game will change dramatically with the cross-world Party Finder functionality. For example, the populations should feel more equalized between worlds and the pace of clearing high-end raid dungeons should further accelerate. How do you feel about changes to those things?
Yoshida: We’re aiming for a worldless feel. I think the merit of a congested world feeling like a city will be unimportant in the future. If you could move around within a data center, players would feel more comfortable traveling with their Free Company to a world where more land is vacant.
Yeah, I think it will wind up like that.
Yoshida: For example, maybe you wanted to go back and get equipment from the old Bahamut encounter, but you didn’t want to use Party Finder because you didn’t know how long matching would take. I think players developed a feeling like that. Since we’re offering recruitment throughout the Data Center with this patch, we’re hoping for parties to come together for unexpected things, like for Wondrous Tails. If you take off restrictions, you should be able to clear these fights with four or five people, so I think you should be able to group up in a short time by recruiting with messages like “first-timers welcome.” I hope people begin to use this and to gather members across the worlds.
Yoshida: As another example, if you like Lord of Verminion and Triple Triad, you can make use of that to participate in side content, which should hopefully liven up some of that content. After that, I think it’s probably OK to even just recruit people for chatting.
I’m looking forward to it. By the way, you said you’d be implementing friend functionality later on, but about when will that be?
Yoshida: It might be a bit after Stormblood is released. Blacklist adding is just a simple addition, but the friend function would require approval of a partner who is located on a different world – that’s not yet built into the system, so we’ll need to create the functionality. However, we’ve already decided on the specifications, so I don’t think it will pose an issue.
For content that’s entered through an NPC, such as Aquapolis, will that never be possible to recruit across worlds?
Yoshida: Indeed, that’s not possible. It would have to be something like players on both worlds A and B respectively opening a portal and entering at the same time, and it’s not really feasible. Next time we want to consider something different.
Will we be able to use this functionality in the future for either the Diadem islands exploration or the deep dungeon Palace of the Dead?
Yoshida: It should be okay to implement for Palace of the Dead to use for leveling, etc., even after the release of Stormblood. However, our server group is currently concentrating on work for Stormblood so it will be difficult to get this done within the 3.X series. Maybe it will happen after Stormblood is released.
What about Gold Saucer related content?
Yoshida: The UI group lead earlier told me it wasn’t possible, but I heard that it should be doable during the 33rd producer letter, so it should be okay (laughs).
Do you have plans to add a keyword serach function in the future?
Yoshida: To narrow down the display, there’s already a word search function included.
For example, if you enter “Coil” for the Bahamut’s Coils, you’d see recruitment for those?
Yoshida: If you typed it correctly, you’d see that.
The Feast map to be decided randomly in the future
In the 33rd live producer letter, you showed a new map of The Feast. What will be the difference from the current map to the new one with battles?
Yoshida: If you join either side, the distance you travel will be the same, but the terrain is not geometrical (symmetrical with angular locations), so you may be able to use that to your advantage. Players may get bored of the similarities of matches playing on the same map all the time, so ranked matches will select one of the two maps randomly in the future.
Yoshida: Once season 3 ends with patch 3.55, we’ll introduce the new map and perform pre-season adjustments. When those are complete, season 4 will begin and will last until the release of Stormblood. Another often requested element will be added as we are introducing item level sync to duels. Patch 3.5 will also include new PvP equipment for all jobs.
What’s the theme for the design of the equipment this time?
Yoshida: That’s still a secret… please wait until the Japanese Fan Festival 2016 (laughs). In order to get that equipment, I think even folks who aren’t familiar with PvP will be participating. For that reason, instead of waiting for Stormblood, we decided to fully close chat ahead of schedule. We’re also currently working on the large-scale PvP for Stormblood.
What will that be like?
Yoshida: Instead of three forces, it will be a new game mode with just two forces. We tried a variety of different three team modes, but everyone seems to like the Seal Rock rules the most, so I want to consider how to do that while removing one of the teams in the future. To that end, I want to check whether abuses (rigged games, etc.) are present when we allow matching outside Grand Companies this time around. In that way, this update is also a significant test case for our path forward.
It seems like PvP will change significantly in the future.
Yoshida: After Stormblood is released, I’d like to make it easier to participate. Right now there are too many actions that can be used, and it’s quite strict that you cannot participate until reaching level 60.
Hildibrand is expected to continue his shenanigans in the future
Is the beast tribe quest introduced in the trailer movie the Heavensward equivalent of the quest we received in patch 2.35 that featured the tribes like the Kobolds?
Yoshida: Yeah. It will be the culmination of the beast tribe quests of Heavensward. The last one had proven to be a very popular quest, so please expect that here as well.
Will the story have comical touches?
Yoshida: It will be about half comical and half serious. The beast tribe quests for Heavensward were made by the more junior staff members, but they were still able to make the characters stand out. I never expected the Gnaths to develop that much of a following (laughs). Although the story of the culmination quest will be centered on Vath Deftarm, we’ll be including the NPCs who appeared in each of the beast tribe quests. There will be cutscenes included as well, so please look forward to that.
Is the dance that appeared in the trailer a new type?
Yoshida: You won’t be able to get strong weapons, but at least you can get a dance (laughs).
The Scholasticate quests haven’t ended yet, so what will happen with those?
Yoshida: The environment around Ishgard won’t change anytime soon, but we’ll bring those quests to a definite conclusion that shows how they will move forward.
Similarly with the Hildibrand story?
Yoshida: Hildibrand’s current story will also be completed, they’ll both be complete with patch 3.5.
Will either of those stories continue in the future?
Yoshida: I’ve given up trying to get Hildibrand to retire (laughs). We thought we’d give him some time off with the 3.X series, but he proved too popular… so I think we’ll be seeing more of him. The series of gumshoe quests for Hildibrand feels like a good storyline to continue.
Yoshida: The end should have a feeling like something new, but definitely Hildy. There’s also something included where the development team really wanted to say a certain word, so please check that out (laughs).
Introduction of Jumping Potions
Discussion on jumping potions has been a hot topic on the forums, so what is your current policy?
Yoshida: As I mentioned earlier, I want to boost the participation level of new players, so right now I’m leaning 7:3 in favor of implementation. We’re still reviewing the opinions and data from China and Korea.
Yoshida: If you don’t have time to level up when you start playing the game, you won’t be able to play along with those who invited you when expansion packs released. The height of climbing the mountain rises steadily over time. Even after we adjust the climbing route to make it easier to climb, it doesn’t change the overall visual impression of a huge undertaking. You might start climbing and realize it feels very comfortable, but look up at the summit and it still seems far away. Also, I think there are many people who can’t get into their second or third jobs because they have very little time to play. There may also be people who just want to start one of the stories over again, like the Heavensward story. In any case, it’s not a potion that puts you at the top. It advances you, but you still need to aim for the top with your own feet. I think we need to adapt for the needs of the current times.
How do you feel after looking at the forum discussion?
Yoshida: After reviewing some of the discussions, I feel like people are taking it as all-or-nothing. Their premise is that everyone will use these if they are implemented, but by introducing a jumping potion, we’re only looking to increase the range of options. We won’t be strongly encouraging players to use them when they begin, and there won’t be any problems with starting without using them. I released the specifications of the Chinese and Korean versions to the forum, so I would like to take the discussions a step further.
So you’re hoping to expand the discussion by providing more information regarding their concerns?
Yoshida: I’m thinking along those lines. On the other hand, there are many people who are worried that players won’t learn a proper skill rotation as an effect of using jumping potions.
Well, there are still people who level up in FATEs alone.
Yoshida: Even if we introduce a jumping potion, its effect will only bring you to the previous level cap, so you’d still have to level from 60 to 70 on your own. In the course of that process, you should have adequate time to master the rotation, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much if you want to try end-game content. However, of course, there would be some confusion in the level 60 range, so I think some players are worried about that.
I had previously talked about some kind of measures for those who wanted to do the main scenario quests from Heavensward again – is it possible to change the scenario completion flag arbitrarily?
Yoshida: Right now, there’s only a potion that completes the main scenario through patch 2.55. When Stormblood is released, I think it would be best to add a second potion that clears all the way up through 3.55 so that players will be able to choose from the two. It would be like a potion for season 1 and a potion for season 2, so to speak. I don’t intend to have jumping potions for different levels, but I think it makes sense to split the scenario into “seasons.” Either way, this is also a point of concern. By the way, if you use a potion to skip through patch 2.55, all the instanced dungeons added from the 2.X series are set as cleared, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to use Duty Roulette.
Please give us a message for all players about the patch 3.5X series as a whole.
Yoshida:I’m greatly thankful for 2016. Including the original FFXIV, this is my sixth year on the team, and more than three years have passed since FFXIV A Realm Reborn began. Thanks to all of our players, we’ve evolved to the point where I can host a world tour for a single game. As for me, I was relieved to finally be able to talk about Stormblood. In 2017, Stormblood will go on sale and we’re planning to raise the bar on the game experience. At the same time, I’ll try my best to keep thinking about where we want to take the game and how we can make it better. I hope after seeing the Frankfurt keynote lecture, players are “oohing” and after playing part 2 of patch 3.5 they are “aah!-ing,” and finally looking forward to Stormblood – those are my goals for the first half of 2017. I look forward to your ongoing support in the future!