Siliconera talked with Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward producer and director Naoki Yoshida about the latest patch changes, going into dungeons with your chocobo companion, and using cloud computing to power the MMORPG.
The latest Final Fantasy XIV patch adds an option for undersized parties to travel together, but the three Crystal Tower raids are excluded from this.
Naoki Yoshida, Producer/Director: All of those dungeons were designed for alliances. We would need to go in and change the way things are made for smaller parties and add a lot of adjustments to get those ready for non-alliance parties. It would take a lot of work.
There are also level mechanics which require three parties to proceed. Because of that you cannot throw a small party in there because they wouldn’t be able to proceed in the game because they were designed for three parties to do three things at the same time. But, we do hope to have something like that some day. It’s just going to take some time.
Have you thought about any plans to expand the Chocobo Companion feature? Maybe undersized parties can bring their chocobo with them to make a party of four people and four chocobos or allow players to bring their chocobo to dungeons.
[Laughs] If we could do that it would be in the patch notes. System-wise this isn’t too difficult to implement into the game. The chocobo’s AI is programmed kind of like gambits [from Final Fantasy XII]. To get that to work with the battle mechanics and battle gimmicks in the dungeons is something that we haven’t debugged yet so we don’t know what will happen there. It’s a good idea and it’s something we want to do in the future. We would probably start with something instead of four players and four chocobos maybe you could go into a dungeon solo you can call your chocobo buddy and go from there.
When I mentioned debugging before, there are things we haven’t checked. Like in the Coil there are attacks that are shared damage among the party. We don’t know if this will share damage with chocobos because we haven’t checked that yet. That would be one of the things we need to check. We would have to check all of the dungeon content again with chocobos and that’s a lot of work.
If you get into a situation where Titan puts you into a granite jail and everyone is trapped in there, but all of the chocobos are still living you a players would say "But, the chocobos are still alive! Why did I fail? They can fight for me!" It’s one of those things we want to gradually bring in, but it’s going to create a lot more work for our testers. It might take a little longer because of that.
We do understand that there are players out there that want to challenge a dungeon themselves and with their chocobo companion and try to defeat a full dungeon. Because we realize that an Instance Dungeon could be a good starting point.
What player vs. player advantages do the new classes have?
Starting with the Astrologian, it’s pretty much the same with PvE and PvP. Because they have two stances, being able to choose a stance that matches the situation, whether you’re going to go with the pure healer stance or barrier heal stance, is going to be a way they’re going to help out their teammates.
As for Dark Knight, even though it’s a tank job it has attacks that can get a lot of DPS. If you don’t care about using all of your MP there are ways to deal a lot of damage. Even though it’s a tank it can be a high DPS character too.
Machinists depend on how players will use their auto turrets. Placing those turrets in strategic locations where they can affect a greater number of enemies or stopping characters from casting in addition to dealing a lot of damage since it is a DPS class.
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward has flying mounts and did this present a challenge for level designers to fill the space with sights for players to see? Was this part of the reason why experience point earning sightseeing landmarks were added in the sky?
The most challenging aspect, more than level design, was working with the technology. The biggest thing is when you have an area where you can travel in three directions instead of just two is players can keep flying up and up they can see the whole map without any obstructions. That is a lot of stress on the system and when designing it we had to find ways to relieve this stress. That comes down to designing the ground and rocks. It’s a different design than in A Realm Reborn. To get our engine ready to handle this, we spent over a year getting it ready. Getting all of this to run for low end PCs and PlayStation 3 consoles without hammering those systems was a challenge.
If you get all of the adventure log areas in the sightseeing log you get about 20% of the experience to go up one level. It’s a long way from level 50 to 60.
We’ve been talking about server processing issues and low spec PCs. Have you ever thought of using Shinra Technologies cloud computing solutions?
We’ve been in communication with Shinra Technologies, this is what we tell them. Currently, with Final Fantasy XIV we have game servers and players with PS4, PS3, PC or Mac. Data goes back and forth between the servers and players. There is a data threshold and we do not want it to be over 0.2 seconds.
What we’re mostly worried about with Shinra’s cloud gaming is you have input from home and graphics rendered on Shinra’s servers, that’s for a normal game. For Final Fantasy XIV to use this technology, you have home, graphics rendering servers as well as the game servers. If there is any lag here and it goes over those 0.2 seconds that’s going to create a bad gaming experience for the players. We don’t want that. We’ve sent our source code to Shinra Technologies told them this is what we need, this is our data, can we get similar data transfer times especially on the graphics rendering end?
I have a very good relationship with Wada-san. He is my friend, but I also a businessman and I need to think of my players and their play experience. If they can provide something that can maintain my player’s experience I want to use that, but they first must prove they can do this.
Yoshida-san, you worked on Dragon Quest X which is a different style of online RPG than Final Fantasy XIV. Since we may not see Dragon Quest X in the West, what feature from Dragon Quest X would you like to bring over to Final Fantasy XIV?
In the third season of Dragon Quest X there is a dungeon that is like [Chunsoft’s] Mystery Dungeon where everyone starts at level one and the dungeon changes. Everyone that plays is put together in the same position and play together at the same level and evolve within the dungeon. It would be something like a Deep Dungeon for Final Fantasy XIV.
Because I was the chief planner for Dragon Quest X, I know their original plan was not to create a MMORPG, but a Dragon Quest game that you could play online. On the other hand, Final Fantasy XIV was designed to be a global standard for MMORPGs. Because the design is so different it’s hard to bring over features and have them feel natural.
Another thing is in Dragon Quest X is they have Coin Bosses where you collect coins that you can trade to battle older bosses in the Dragon Quest series. However, in our game when it comes to borrowing older bosses from other Final Fantasy games sometimes directors don’t want you to use their creation. It comes down to right to use those even within our own company.
The other reason is story consistency. Whereas in Dragon Quest people don’t care, it is what it is. In Eorzea, people expect there to be a story. Oh, Kefka’s here? Why is he here, what’s the story behind this? What dimension did he com through? Creating that is actually kind of difficult. Again, because players want and expect that we can’t throw in everything from every Final Fantasy. We have to make each one specific for Final Fantasy XIV and that takes time.
Actually, the Dragon Quest X producer Saito-san is here as well as the IP manager Miyaki-san are here and tell them you want it!