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E3 - Final Fantasy XIV Interview with Hiromichi Tanaka


Final Fantasy XIV

During E3 2010, RPGamer was able to sit down with Final Fantasy XIV producer Hiromichi Tanaka. Here is what he had to say about Square Enix's upcoming 2010 MMORPG.

RPGamer: What are your first impressions of the Alpha?

Tanaka: One thing we were aware of even before the Alpha phase started was that the battle system was a bit slow. It wasn't very speedy and obviously the users noticed this during the Alpha phase, so that's why we came to improve the battle system for the Beta version. Other than that, we received a lot of feedback from the users including some things the development team would never have noticed. So, it's been very very useful and helpful and we received a lot of important data from our players.

Kurosawa: Participation has been very well for the Alpha and we would like to continue to hear from them.

RPGamer: You just started Alpha 2. Do you still have the same plan you were running or is it now running later than you expected?

Tanaka: Actually the Alpha phase was extended longer than we expected and one of the reasons was because we noticed that the server stress was much higher than we thought, so we spent a lot of time investigating that issue, but during the Alpha 2 phase we managed to solve this issue so that is why Alpha 2 will end this week and very soon the Beta phase will start.

RPGamer: There has been a lot of talk about the Alpha being very stressful on the computer. There's not a lot of configuration. Is there a minimum spec you are looking for so that people moving up from XI don't have to upgrade all their hardware?

Tanaka: With the Beta version we will be adding more options for the PC configuration. However, compared to FFXI, yes, it will require much a higher spec PC. That being said, even when we first released XI, at the launch time the spec was really high for that era. The same thing is going to happen for XIV. It is because if we introduce this game for the current average PC, in a few years time it's going to be old technology. So we purposely aim for a higher spec PC which will be average in two or three years' time so that people can enjoy it over the long term. Also, the main issue we're having is that the CPU is fine but many people don't have a high spec GPU. This is probably because gaming PCs are not that prominent worldwide at the moment. We will keep on trying to minimize the specs so that many people can enjoy it, but we'll see how it goes until the service actually starts.

RPGamer: We have a technical demo of 3D Final Fantasy XIV, but they expressed it is only a demo. Why 3D and how likely?

Tanaka: *Laughing* When you say why, we believe everyone in the industry is currently interested in 3D, like Sony and everyone else, so we thought we should try it out as well. However, as for how likely, we are really not sure and are still investigating the possibilities. We are really not sure at the moment.

RPGamer: Have you done any testing to see how long you can play it, and if 3D is good for long play sessions in your testing so far?

Tanaka: We're still investigating, but in the office some people play the 3D version all day long. Compared to 3D movies where you are not expecting what happens next and are forced to see the 3D effects, in the game you are in control of what happens next, and we believe there is less stress for the user.

RPGamer: With the battle system, you said you made it faster. One of the things that was hinted at is that in a party there would be a combo system with other players, but it's never been investigated. Were there any details on that?

Tanaka: We have this new system called Battle Regiment which will allow a party to provide cover between the players and cover being effective from the enemies, but it's something we are still looking into adjusting and fine tuning. During the Beta version we will see how it goes among the players. Based on the feedback we will brush it up and make it ready for the actual servicing.

Actually we did have a Battle Regiment in the Alpha phase, but because there was a bug issue people were only able to experience maybe 30% of the Battle Regiment itself so I believe it was quite difficult to figure out how it was working, but in the Beta version you should fully be able to experience it, so hopefully you'll take a look.

RPGamer: One of the other problems in the Alpha was there was no link shell. There was no way to communicate with the other people besides being around. Is that going to be added to the Beta?

Tanaka: For the Beta version we will be adding a chat field system, and also something like a link shell system the same as Final Fantasy XI so you can expect that in the Beta version. Also, in the future we will be introducing the community website where you will be able to see your character and guild status.

RPGamer: Why was the Alpha limited to certain races?

Tanaka: It was more for development reasons. Some characters, races, models, textures, and proportions were not ready yet at that stage, so we implemented the races which were ready. But for the Beta version, everything is now ready and will be implemented.

RPGamer: What's with the characters' different colored eyes?

Tanaka: There is no particular reason, but probably because it's really similar to cats, and cats often have odd eyes, so it's probably coming from that idea.

RPGamer: Do you think the Lalafell will have that option as well?

Tanaka: Yes.

RPGamer: In the character creation, it is the first time I've ever seen scarring. Like, you can have scarring on the nose of the Miqo'te. Is that something you are going to explore? It's normally very pretty characters, and this adds a different depth to it.

Tanaka: Actually even for FF XI Mithras were usually a quite wild type of race. The same can be said for Miqo'te in FF XIV. They are quite wild and it's not going to be only pretty, gentle characters. That's one of the reasons why we added scars, and also this time there are different clans in the game, so they will be quite wild in that as well.

RPGamer: I noticed in the demo area everyone was using a controller. Is that the preferred way to play Final Fantasy XIV?

Tanaka: Actually it's up to the players. For FF XI, we started the development for the PS2 version but players were more comfortable to play with the keyboard and mouse. For FF XIV, I myself actually play it with the keyboard and mouse, so it's really up to the players.

Kurosawa: We are just making sure that the people who prefer controllers will also enjoy it fully. That's why we demonstrated the controller there.

RPGamer: I was having trouble with the camera because it had been moved to 'J,' 'K,' you know, the right, so it's easier to use the controller to control the camera.

Kurosawa: We seperately configured the PC camera as well as the controller camera in the configuration, so you can switch back and forth so you can configure the best camera.

RPGamer: What is the most influential thing that you learned from FF XI that you're applying to FF XIV?

Tanaka: That will be the cross region and cross platform aspect we have in FF XI, which is very unique. We are planning to bring it to FF XIV as well, which allows you to communicate with people from different cultures. The community aspect is something we really enjoyed in XI and we want to continue having it in FF XIV.

RPGamer: Will the auto translate function return?

Tanaka: Yes.

RPGamer: I saw that there were more jobs added to the Beta. Do you have a final total of how many jobs there will be at launch?

Tanaka: From a game design point of view we have extra slots, so we will be able to add more based on feedback from our users, so even once we launch the game we will try to add more classes as the users require.

RPGamer: In an expansion or on their own?

Tanaka: We can also add them in version updates.

RPGamer: What would you say would makes FF XIV stand out from the other MMORPGs?

Tanaka: The armory system and guildleve which allows players to have more time efficiency and flexibility. We believe that they will be very unique to FF XIV.

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