So far, Square Enix has given us a behind-the-scenes look at the development team behind Final Fantasy XIV in their Dev Diary series. The first chapter dealt with music production, the second with story and lore, and now we get a look at the final chapter which focuses on visual design in the Heavensward expansion.
First off, we hear from Takeo Suzuki, the Lead Designer for Heavensward. He begins by talking a little bit about how the expansion added the ability of flight, granting players an incredible amount of freedom to travel compared to what was available in A Realm Reborn.
Next, Lead Background Artist Junichi Murata spoke to the challenges that the ability of flight produced in Heavensward in regards to the design of areas and overall player experience. “To make larger maps and achieve faster travel speeds, we had to reduce and optimize the data volume,” he explained.
Character artist Yuji Mitsuishi and Lead Animator Shinya Ichida then discuss the process of designing and animating the flying mounts introduced in Heavensward and how the unique characteristics of each mount would influence how it would move and fly. Ichida then went on to say how the team struggled with ideas on how to grant the ability of flight to the popular Fat Chocobo mount.
“At first, we argued about how a fat bird would even be able to fly,” said Ichida. “But when we started talking about what makes the fat chocobo so charming—how the player makes him run by hanging his favorite food, gysahl greens, in front of him—we got to thinking that if we were to hang something he’s crazy about in front of him, then he just might fly. And so we came up with the idea of using a piece of cake.”
The addition of play-controlled flight to Heavensward was a daunting feat for the development team, but it definitely appears to have been well-worth the effort in the end. “I’m glad we added flying mounts,” said Lead Designer Suzuki. “Even now, when I play, it’s still a lot of fun to fly around. I’m really happy we could provide this experience to our fans.
The video closed with a special message from Final Fantasy XIV Producer Naoki Yoshida who noted that the Dev Diary series only touched on a small fraction of the development process and that there “are many more staff members working hard day and night to breathe life into Eorzea.” He then went on to say that his hope is that Final Fantasy XIV “is a title in the series that will live on with our fans.
Final Fantasy XIV is available for the PC, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4.