Final Fantasy XIV Interview -- Naoki Yoshida Talks Next Expansion, Roleplay, Features, and Much More
DualShockers talked to Director and Producer Naoki Yoshida and Composer Masayoshi Soken about the present and future of Final Fantasy XIV.
Final Fantasy XIV just passed its fifth anniversary with fourteen million registered players under its belt. It’s also approaching the eighth anniversary of the release of the launch of 1.0, which marked the beginning of the adventure as “Warriors of Light” for many of us.
In order to take a deeper look into the future of the game, DualShockers had a chat with Director and Producer Naoki Yoshida and Composer Masayoshi Soken, and we got a lot of information on a variety of subjects, from a few teases about the upcoming (probably?) expansion, to support for roleplayers and plans for the game’s server structure.
Giuseppe: Soken-san, you have created five years worth of music for Final Fantasy XIV, without even counting your work on 1.0. Are you tired yet, or you still feel plenty of creative drive to compose even more?
Masayoshi Soken: (Laughs) of course if you ask me whether I’m tired or not, I’m obviously exhausted. But since I really love games, and I’m having fun creating music for games, that exhaustion is irrelevant. I have so many ideas and all sorts of things I want to do in the future, so of course, I will continue charging forward.
I consider Final Fantasy XIV as my challenge and in the future, I will continue challenging it.
G: It’s like an ironman challenge.
MS: I like that way of describing it!
G: Yoshida-san, if you’re sticking to the schedule you had so far, the next expansion is probably a year away. What stage of development are you in?
Naoki Yoshida: We’re still at the entrance of hell. One person is already in hell, since I have to think not only about the present, but also about the future. Since I am very involved with the game design I have to work on what’s going on now, as well as thinking about what’s going to happen in the future.
I’m the first person to enter hell, then next comes the scenario team that’s gonna write the story, then comes the battle design team, and then, the last to enter hell is the sound team.
G: So the scenario team is not in hell yet?
NY: Actually one person in the scenario team is in hell.
G: Can you tell us who?
NY: That is a secret.
G: You may or may not remember, but before Stormblood was officially announced, I asked you what kind of job you’d personally have liked to add to the game. You told me red mage, and just like that, red mage happened. Of course, it’s totally a coincidence. So, is there a job that you’d personally like to add in the next expansion?
NY: (Laughs) Personally, it’d be cool to maybe have the Arithmetician from Final Fantasy Tactics. In the second part of Return to Ivalice, in one of the battles, we had actual math problems so… Maybe we could have a job that can use numbers in battle.
All right. I’m not going to say anything more about new jobs. There could be no new jobs in the new expansion. We don’t know. It could happen that there’s no expansion…
G: There could be a new race…
G: Maybe Viera?
NY: (Laughs) Next!
G: The work done by Yasumi Matsuno on Return to Ivalice has been highly appreciated by many fans. Since he is also a big FFXIV player himself, isn’t it time to bring him back as a regular member of the team?
NY: If we brought him back we’d totally have a patch once every six or seven months (Laughs).
G: He can’t be that slow…
NY: It’s not that he is slow. It’s that he goes over his work so many times to try to make it perfect. I look at myself as a sort of editor. I look over his work and I say “Yes, this is great!” and he’s like “maybe…” and I’m like “No no no! it’s ok, it’s good!”
Our job is to create a world that will contain his stories, and he’s got so much in there that it can sometimes prove difficult. That being said, we really enjoy working with him, and we want to keep a relationship with him. Whether that means on Final Fantasy XIV or other projects by the Business Division 5. We understand the value of what he brings.
Yet, first of all, the big conclusion of Return to Ivalice is coming up. There will be big surprises and making that the best it can be is the job we have in front of us now.
G: I’m guessing that Final Fantasy XI is drawing closer to the end of its life cycle. Are you thinking, when the time to close Final Fantasy XI comes, of ways to draw its remaining players into Final Fantasy XIV?
NY: Being in charge of Business Division 5, XI is still part of my group. I can tell you right now that it’s still going strong, and there are no plans to end it any time soon.
This year we have a lot of patches and a lot of plans. We’re going to talk about it in the coming months, even if it’s not a new expansion.
Yet, the team and the Producers want to liven up the project, so you’re gonna see the results in the next few months of work within the team as well as the PR teams. You’ll feel that the game is still going strong.
If and when, maybe even ten years in the future, Final Fantasy XI finally ends, then yes, we’d be completely open to doing some kind of promotion for those players. Maybe if they move to XIV we could give them a free year of subscription or something like that.
With that being said, we don’t want to force those players to move on to XIV. They’re completely different games, so it has to be their decision.
The memories players have of Vana’diel are memories of Vana’diel. And it’s because it’s Vana’diel that those memories are so strong. We’ll do everything in our power to keep the servers open for the players. It’s important for us.
G: Let’s talk about roleplaying. Lately, I noticed that you ramped up the content aimed at roleplayers, like the musical instruments. What do you think you can do to make the game even more attractive for roleplayers?
NY: There are many kinds of roleplayers, so creating one grand thing that is going to please all of them is very difficult. We’re focusing on certain types of roleplayers. What we’re doing right now is focusing on those roleplayers who like to play with their estates and housing, creating systems catering to that. For instance, people who want to be shopkeepers and people who want to host events at their houses.
For instance, one of the things we have planned is the ability to add tags to your house, so players will know what kind of house you have. Is it a shop where you’re selling things? Do you want people to come because you think you have a great design? Is it a bar maybe?
In 4.4 we’re implementing the mannequin system. You can display your crafted gear on mannequins in your home. It’s not only about the display, as you can also sell your gear from the mannequin. You can have people come to your house, see your house as a shop, see the equipment that you created on the mannequin and purchase it. This kind of things that people were able to do in Ultima Online, you’ll be able to do in Final Fantasy XIV as well.
Once the housing roleplay support is finished — we haven’t announced this yet — but we’re thinking on something new that will help roleplayers that are fishermen.
While this is not necessarily about roleplaying, we have some idea for endgame content for disciples of the land and disciples of the hand as well. There is a lot of stuff that we have in the works for now.
Some people aren’t just about hardcore battles, and giving them a chance to be the hero is something that we want to implement. We don’t want XIV to be just about battle content, crafting, and gathering. We want to expand that. We want players to feel that they’re really living in Hydaelin. Finding new ways for players to feel that they really live in this world is something that we’ll keep adding to.
G: Speaking of roleplayers, will Balmung ever be open to new players?
NY: We have things in store, but it’s something that players will probably won’t ever expect, so I can’t really talk about it.
G: You’re finally implementing the Captain rank for Grand Companies. Is it something you’re considering to accelerate in the future, or we’ll have to wait several more years to get to Major and higher ranks?
NY: We kind of feel that Grand Company content has become a bit too simple, always doing the same thing over and over. I don’t personally like that, so I want to change things a little bit. To change things up is going to require time. We ask players to give us a little bit of time after we implement Captain. Yet, in that time, we’re going to be thinking about something new.
G: A few minutes ago you mentioned something unexpected about servers. Four years ago you told me that the server infrastructure could support megaservers in the future. Are you maybe thinking about letting players move freely between servers?
NY: That is something we have thought about, but the wall created by different datacenters does exist. Getting over that would be very challenging. Recently we made it possible for players on the same datacenter to interact, gradually breaking down the wall between servers.
We understand that with a community this strong, having those walls represented by datacenters is not the best situation. We would like everyone to be together, but that is a technical limitation. We’re working to break those down and figure out ways around them. Slowly but surely, hopefully, one day we can get to a point where we’re all together.
If you want to learn more about Final Fantasy XIV, you can also enjoy more detailed information on the upcoming 4.4 update, watch the new trailer, and read our review of the Stormblood expansion.
Final Fantasy XIV is currently available for PS4 and PC, and you can grab a copy on Amazon.