– Gamescom 2013 – We interviewed Naoki Yoshida, the man behind the re-release of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

We got to meet with the legend that is Naoki Yoshida, Producer and Director at Square Enix who is currently the man behind the re-release of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. An interesting first meeting of GamesCom with his interpreter in tow, though Yoshida is able to speak understand some English he is definitely a man who loves to talk about his passion; gaming, and with that in mind wants to ensure that his words are fully understood.

In the video we find out about what went wrong with the original Final Fantasy, what steps the company have taken to ensure there isn’t a repeat performance of the bad press that the original gained, and also his thoughts on the MMORPG community in general.

FF A Realm Reborn headlogo

What were the main issues of Final Fantasy XIV?

Yoshida: So first of all the issues we had with the original FF14, if I start listing up all the individual issues the list is going to be endless, but there are mainly two areas. The first one was the lack of gaming experience, either you wanted to enjoy the content and there wasn’t enough. The second one was because it is an online game service structure is very important but that was another issue that we were facing because of the service structure players couldn’t even play if they wanted to. So not enough content to play and not being able to play, those were the main two issues.

How are these issues being addressed?

Yoshida: To solve these two issues first of all we rebuilt the service structure from zero, from scratch, and we also coded everything from scratch as well. For an MMO game the service structure is the most important part, some people even call it the planet itself and needed to enjoy an MMO game, so that is something we focused on and re-established the whole service structure. At the same time to enjoy the stress free gaming experience we made sure the game system was made so players could play from different servers, so we implemented the Duty Finder System. So different players from different servers can join the party and enjoy the game in a stress free environment. Also, because it is a Final Fantasy series we made sure that as long as you follow the storyline you will naturally enjoy the gaming content; that’s how we redesigned the whole gaming experience as well. So those are the ways we addressed the two main areas.

How have you prepared for the re-launch of Final Fantasy XIV?

Yoshida: So if we start from the Alpha test and up to the last weeks final beta phase we have had about 8 months to communicate with users and gain their feedback and gain their trust. And if we look at the Beta 3 stage we actually implemented about 900 issues where we’d gotten feedback from the players. So we definitely tried regaining trust from our core players, and then you had the final beta stage. Player character data will be transferred to the actual game when it is launched.

The second thing we’re trying to do is to gradually implement more and more players, so we have open beta, we have early access and then the game launch. What we want to avoid is having everyone jumping in at the same time and starting from level zero, so that’s something we want to avoid and so we’re shifting the amount of players joining the game and staggering them. So those are the two areas, gaining trust from the community which is something I think we are definitely achieving and we’re getting a lot of warm messages from our players. It all depends how many players we get in the end, so we’re trying to make sure it will be as smooth as possible.

With over a decade of experience, how do you think the MMO community has changed in that time?

Yoshida: I think there’s a huge difference between the different types of community. Those players who started playing MMO’s from 11 [Final Fantasy] period and then tried different world wide titles from other MMO companies, those are one group. And then there’s another group, a very young audience maybe who just graduated and this is their first time enjoying an MMO. The expectations these two groups have are totally different. Especially this younger group who have mobile phones and they can play games whenever they want to, for them the MMO that you have to connect to the serve and needing to make sure you’re always connect to the server to experience the game could be something they’re not expecting. And also only having the exciting gaming experience maybe only after being logged in for 40 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, might be too late for them, they expect an interesting exciting experience straight away. While the other group who might know FF11 and other MMOs for them it might be normal that once you log in you have to find a party when you join the game and trying out different content, it can take time. So different groups have difference expectations and I think there is a huge gap between the community at the moment.

Is A Realm Reborn a game for Hardcore players?

Yoshida: So I believe I made it so both audiences can enjoy [themselves], we implemented a system called Duty Finder where you can find party members very easily and enjoy the party gaming content casually. But at the same time when you get to the end content and when you have to try out the raid dungeons, you will have to find your party members from the same server and make sure you have all the different skillsets ready, so those are more for the traditional MMO fans, what they expect and what they will enjoy so I made sure we’re covering both communities.

What does make A Realm Reborn stand out?

Yoshida: I believe the storyline and the graphics, I’m really proud of these two and I think they’re really top class. From the story point of view to satisfy all the Final Fantasy fans who are used to playing the console games I think this is just as good, or even better, than any other Final Fantasy titles. You can expect the deep story line and lots of high quality cut scenes, the player itself can become the [one of] the Warriors of Light and it’s a really exciting storyline that is waiting for you. I don’t think any other MMOs are featuring each individual character as much as FF14:ARR, which is something I want the players to really look forward to. Secondly from a graphics point of view it works on PS3 and with this kind of quality I think it’s incredible.

Are there plans to port to the game to PS4?

Yoshida: Yes absolutely we will be releasing the PS4 version in 2014. Of course the PS4 platform will be cross platform so you can play with other platform players. You don’t have to wait for the PS4 version to come out, on the PS3 version we are looking for a way to upgrade to the PS4 version and that is something we are speaking to Sony about how we are going to make that happen.


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