The Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers expansion has proved to be quite a powerful and popular one. Its developers have also been quite open about talking about went into it. Siliconera caught up with Final Fantasy XIV‘s Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida and Lead Character Concept Artist Yusuke Mogi to learn about the thoughts that went into creating conflicting feelings with Shadowbringers and its popular antagonist, Emet-Selch.
Joel Couture, Siliconera: What inspired the storyline of Shadowbringers? What interested you in exploring how fine the line can be between good and evil?
Naoki Yoshida: Even in modern-day life, people already hold different views on where to draw the line between good and evil. The same can be said when you look back on history, in which the claims of those who emerged victorious were deemed to be right, whereas those who lost were wrong. However, with developments in culture and education, everyone knows that the world doesn’t work in a simple “good is right and evil is wrong” sort of way—I believe the world of Shadowbringers is a representation of that very idea.
What thoughts went into creating Emet-Selch’s backstory and character? What feelings did you want the player to go through as they journeyed with and ultimately fought against him?
Yoshida: One big goal we had in this story was to have players understand the Ascians. In order to do so, Emet-Selch needed to be not just an enemy, but a character that tries to understand the protagonist, the Scions, and the masses.
During development, we never really anticipate or try to predict what kind of emotions players would feel towards certain characters or the story. We feel it is more important for us to think about what kind of ideas and principles to depict rather than what kind of emotions we would like to evoke through exploring said ideas.
Shadowbringers may leave players feeling emotionally conflicted at its end. What interested you about making players feel a bit unsure about whether they’re doing the right thing?
Yoshida: I touched on this in a previous answer as well, but I would be delighted if Final Fantasy XIV served as a catalyst for people to ponder about themselves, their surroundings, parents, siblings, friends, and society, instead of holding onto the idea that good is rewarded and evil is punished. That said, we are entertainers, not philosophers—our greatest joy would be for players to enjoy the game, one way or another.
Final Fantasy XIV has something for all types of players, from casual to hardcore. What thoughts go into creating content that appeals to both styles of player? How do you create a world that has something for everyone, and why is that important to you?
Yoshida: Nowadays, nothing is more valuable than time, and one’s personal view is quite important. There are no standardized values, and what people like or dislike, or what they find fun or uninteresting differs drastically from one person to another. That is why I feel that it’s important to have content that can accommodate various values in the world of Final Fantasy XIV. This is because having narrow-minded values will close off the world.
I don’t necessarily do anything in particular to accomplish this… but I try to find out “what other people besides myself are thinking” through talking about various matters with my staff, as well as reading many books and watching movies.
What thoughts go into drawing from older Final Fantasy (FF) games? How do you decide which elements/bosses/music of older games you want to incorporate? How do you do that without disrupting the story and feel of Final Fantasy XIV?
Yoshida: There is one point that the development team and I are always mindful of: we ensure that players who have played previous FF installments are not let down when they play Final Fantasy XIV. At the same time, we don’t want FFXIV to lose its identity in the process. Though we do respect past titles of the franchise, XIV as a part of the FF series would begin to lose its meaning if we simply cut and paste elements as-is into our game.
Yusuke Mogi: From a design perspective, I’m mindful of how best to bring the delicate and striking characters that Mr. Amano created into 3D form. Focusing too much on the fine details of an existing design during the creative process makes it difficult to be faithful to the original design—it’s more about taking the overall feel and accentuating those elements.
Most of the time, it’s difficult to create 3D designs if we just try to copy an existing illustration. Only a limited number of staff with extensive experience are able to expertly handle these homage designs.
Final Fantasy XIV is available for the PlayStation 4 and PC.