Translation below of the Famitsu transcript of the press conference after Day 1 of the Frankfurt Fan Festival. Largely the same as the transcript/translation from Gamerescape but I didn't really play spot the difference or compare them before translating so perhaps a slightly different take. Sounds like there will be a separately planned interview with Famitsu in the near future, so stay tuned for more. And of course there will be a ton more coming as we get closer to Stormblood.
On February 18 and 19, Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival in Frankfurt was held in Frankfurt, Germany. A Q&A session was held with the press after the first day's events had concluded, and we'd like to report on that here.
Yosuke Matsuda, Square Enix president and CEO, briefly commented and asked us to stick around for the fun program planned for tomorrow before inviting producer and director Naoki Yoshida to speak.
Yoshida was still dressed in the samurai costume he was wearing during the keynote presentation. He let us know that the big features of Stormblood have been revealed since last October across the three Fan Festivals in Las Vegas, Tokyo, and Europe, but there will continue to be opportunities to reveal additional information to the media from here on out. Around 100 media representatives from all around the world were gathered for the Q&A session. We asked questions by raising our hands, and the session went on for about 50 minutes. Famitsu is planning a separate interview, so please hang on a bit longer for additional content.
How has your experience interacting with the fans around the world at the three Fan Festivals been?
Yoshida: In general, of course we primarily hold the Fan Festivals for the players to enjoy, but one of the other big objectives is to keep the development team motivated and with a certain level of stress. Meeting face-to-face with the players around the world gives us the energy we need to keep developing the game. I think the fans of Europe gave us this push even moreso than those in North America and Japan.
The new area from Stormblood that was showed off definitely has a feeling of Japanese and Far Eastern culture - how much do you value Oriental culture?
Yoshida: I had Japan in mind when we set up this new nation and area called Doma. However, Japan has a long history, and part of what might come to mind is the old age of feudalism with the Edo era and the Tokugawa shogunate. That's very different than what we were going for. So when we set out to define how we wanted Kugane to look, rather than being purely Japanese, we defined the style as "harmonious," with the cultures of many countries of the Eorzean world coming together. We went through things like how to use colors and objects one by one and made decisions that we stuck to during development. In June, you'll be able to see more of what the FFXIV team put together. One thing to add - while we call Doma a nation, in reality it's more of a continent than a country, kind of like China and the Mongolian region. So as you travel across Doma, you'll see some very different cultures compared to what you see in Kugane.
You'll be adding two new jobs with the release of Stormblood, but is there a possibility that you'll be adding a third job during the 4.X series like how Ninja was added during the 2.X series?
Yoshida: We have no plans for that right now (laughs). As a player, I understand the expectation of new jobs. However, if we add a lot of jobs that aren't properly balanced, it will create a lot of issues for players. Since we're making quite significant changes to the battle system, we first and foremost want to make sure that everything is thoroughly balanced so that the game can be enjoyed on any job. After we do that, we'll see how the developers on the team feel.
Will additional features like linkshells and friend list capabilities be added to the cross-world functionality in the future?
Yoshida: It won't be there for the release of Stormblood, but we've already begun development on additional cross-world features. Regarding Free Companies and Linkshells, we're working on planning the specifications now. I don't know how long it will take, but we are working on it.
Is that costume comfortable? Will you wear it to work to motivate the team?
Yoshida: Actually, it's quite comfortable. I was originally planning to wear it just during the keynote, but because it was so comfortable I decided to keep it on. I really like it and I would love to bring it back to Japan, but the German team worked with local craftsmen to assemble the costume, so the Japanese team told me we really should keep it in Germany. Unfortunately I can't bring it home. Anyway, if I wore this to the office, far from being amused, I think people would get angry and tell me to stop fooling around (laughs).
Will you be able to play through dungeons or other content with squadrons?
Yoshida: We've already created the specification and we've begun work on the AI for the squadron members. However, we're mainly focused on the development of Stormblood right now, so I think the implementation will be some time after the release of Stormblood.
Is there anything you'd like to do for the next Fan Fest after this European Fan Festival?
Yoshida: Well, there's still tomorrow (laughs). Now that it's done, I think Day 1 was of really high quality; all of the technical folks and engineers responded were really on point. My goal for right now is to return my best smile to players tomorrow. After that, my next biggest goal is to get president Matsuda to tell me we can do the next Fan Festival (laughs).
With the new areas you revealed this time, it seems the attention got shifted away from Ala Mhigo completely... are you worried that Ala Mhigo might be forgotten?
Yoshida: There will also be great looking field areas and a significant amount of adventuring in Ala Mhigo. From a high level, you could say that about half is Ala Mhigo and half is on the Doma side. I can't really get any more specific without getting into the story.
With the end of PlayStation 3 support upon the release of Stormblood, you'll be able to focus more on higher specifications for FFXIV in the future. Will you have a patch to add PlayStation 4 Pro support, or any plan to port to the Nintendo Switch?
Yoshida: For PlayStation 4 Pro, I'd like to use the extra power to improve performance, but not to increase resolution or run in 4K. We've already actually begun some testing, so hopefully we can make a formal announcement in the near future. Regarding the Nintendo Switch, and also the Xbox platform which I was asked about earlier, we'd like to work on as many different hardware platforms as possible, but having the servers and matchmaking work to log into the same worlds across these different platforms is something we'd need to be able to do, so it's possible if we can come up with a solution to that. I don't have anything else to say about that right now.
Since you're adding swimming and diving with Stormblood, so you have any plans to add Blitzball?
Yoshida: Actually, I am planning to. However, it's going to be challenging, and I'm concerned that if we just added Blitzball as it was in FFX, people might not play it too much after trying it out. We have some ideas of how to make Blitzball unique for a MMO, but then we may have the issue of whether it will really be the Blitzball that everyone remembers. So we've put those plans on hold for now as far as what form we want to implement Blitzball in. However, as the adventure spreads out into the water, it's something I'd like to realize.
Is there anything new to report regarding jumping potions in the global version?
Yoshida: I'm in final discussions with the development team now, so I can't say just yet. As soon as the decisions are finalized, we'll be announcing it at some thing like a live producer letter.
Can you tell us anything about the revamp of the battle system with Stormblood?
Yoshida: Well, I think calling it a "revamp" isn't really correct - we aren't totally remaking the system. It's more of a renovation, and there are two main reasons for this. One is that the skill rotation for each job became too difficult in the 3.X series and the disparity between casual and highly skilled players grew too large. To help with that, the overall adjustments will focus on things that highly skilled players can take full advantage of, but even casual players will be able to use to some extent. A related issue is that FFXIV has become much more difficult to master when played on a gamepad because of the increased number of actions. Even though we're increasing the level cap to 70, we're actually aiming to make jobs easier to use by consolidating or eliminating less frequently used actions and actions that are difficult to use, with the goal of not changing the total number of actions.
The second reason is that there are too many situations that had players staring at buff icons, so we're setting up dedicated indicators for each job in Stormblood. With that, you'll be able to adjust your tactics more intuitively with a user interface that matches the characteristics of each job, rather than staring at buff icons. This will be easier to discuss in more detail by seeing actual game screens. Since we'll be working on adjustments until the end, I probably won't be able to show this until late May, but we'll set up the time to show it off properly.
You introduced a city in Doma with this trailer, but will there be a towns that players can go to in Ala Mhigo?
Yoshida: Hmm, I wonder... (laughs). To really answer this, the story is that you first need to work to recapture the area as it's currently under Imperial control. It will even be a struggle to get there as you need to drive out the empire. So as you play, I hope you keep in mind that you're acting as a liberator. We're preparing some new mechanisms that haven't been seen before in MMOs, so even though it's a MMO, we're working in development to make sure the story is really enjoyable.
There are various business models to MMOs like free-to-play, micro-transactions, etc. Why did you decide to go with monthly subscription with FFXIV? What are the advantages?
Yoshida: To fully answer this question it would take like an hour, and I've already given a proper answer to this question several times in the past, so I'll have the PR team pass along my response.
Is there any reason why Samurai was made a DPS besides the number and balance of each job role?
Yoshida: We didn't start by saying we need a melee DPS, so let's make samurai. We'd been talking for several years about whether we should implement it as a tank or DPS. If you look at the shoguns in the feudalist period, you might think of those as tank, but I imagine samurai from the end of the Edo period more as DPS. Perhaps it depends on the Japanese era we are thinking of, but the samurai that we thought about on the development team are like those from "Seven Samurai" by Akira Kurosawa. Because of that, we didn't make it a tank.
What features do you think make FFXIV better than other MMORPGs?
Yoshida: I think a big part of it is the speed and volume of each major update and expansion, and of course the Fan Festivals.
Sometimes battles with monsters out in the open field areas can feel quite long, so will battle time be reduced with the renovation of the battle system?
Yoshida: I think we went a little too far in the 3.X series, so it should be a bit shorter than it is now.
Do you plan to allow people to communicate with others in the game or use in-game functions via a mobile app?
Yoshida: We're actually working now on a new app that will allow you to communicate with your Free Companies, Linkshells, and friends in the game, but it won't be complete in time for the release of Stormblood. However, I think it will be introduced to coincide with one of the patches shortly afterwards.
Do you have any plans for PlayStation VR?
Yoshida: Although we performed some tests, we realized that one of the biggest issues is that you need at least 60 fps, preferably 120 fps to help avoid motion sickness (Editor's note: motion sickness varies on an individual basis). Because of that, people wouldn't be able to play comfortably without content created specifically for VR. There's a high development cost that would be associated with that, and it would be content that players could only play if they had PlayStation VR, so many people would be asking us why we aren't focusing on content that everyone can enjoy. And the other problem would be who pays for that cost.
Previously I was asked about VR, and my response at that time was maybe we could have some building called "Miqo'te Paradise" with a bunch of cute Miqo'te hanging out and you can go in and hang out with them for an entrance fee of something like 5000 yen (laughs). I talked to the development team about this, but none of the designers volunteered. Hopefully someone does in the future (laughs).