Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood adds new areas like Doma to explore, two classic Final Fantasy jobs, and bumps the level cap for all disciplines to level 70. Siliconera met with Final Fantasy XIV producer and director Naoki Yoshida to talk about how the team created the Red Mage class, how new jobs are chosen for expansions like Stormblood, and the Odder Otter.
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood introduces Red Mage and Samurai into Eorzea, but there are so many jobs from the Final Fantasy universe you could add. How do you decide which jobs to pick?
Naoki Yoshida, Director/Producer: It’s been about four years since the worldwide launch and we’ve done different events worldwide and we’ve got a chance to talk to players that attended those events as well as talk to the community on our forums. Over the four years, I believe those two were the most requested jobs.
What is the least requested job?
Hmm… Calculator [laughs] and the Oracle from Final Fantasy Tactics. People who are familiar with Final Fantasy XI want the Puppeteer or Beastmaster. Nowadays, we are hearing more Blue Mage since we have Red Mage in the game.
When designing new areas for expansions do you theme these around the job classes or is the new area determined by the job classes chosen first?
We actually think of these two elements separately. The fact that going eastward to Othard and having the Samurai job class just happened to be at the same time. Whenever we select a new job to introduce into Final Fantasy XIV we always want to bring something that will provide our players a new gameplay experience. We feel that is necessary when we introduce a battle type job. What kind of job can we implement to deliver more fun for players? How can we provide a new exciting area to explore and experience? These two elements are considered separately and we strive to achieve these goals.
Hypothetically speaking, even if we decided to not do the liberation of Doma and instead of have the setting being on the moon we would still have included the samurai job.
So, the next expansion is on the moon?
[Laughs] We will think about that.
Stormblood has a Return to Ivalice storyline and in past interviews you mentioned Final Fantasy XIV is kind of like a Final Fantasy amusement park. What can you tell us about this new area?
Hmm… no matter what we tell you it could potentially be a spoiler. For those players who enjoyed Final Fantasy Tactics or Final Fantasy XII, I think those players will enjoy this content. The gear you obtain from completing the content should be enjoyable to those fans of the Ivalice Alliance.
With every MMO expansion new classes are added. How do you balance interest in new classes like the Red Mage and Samurai in Final Fantasy XIV with classes players are already using?
In terms of which job your character picks is up to the player. You can use whatever job is to your liking and we don’t want to instruct players which one to pick. The Dragoon has its great qualities and the Monk has its own great qualities. We balance all of these jobs with the same amount of love. Of course with each new expansion we have been introducing new jobs and we would love for players to get a chance to play the new jobs as well. Because of that each job is unique and has its own gameplay experience and we want to encourage players to pick the one that fits you best.
Stormblood introduces job gauges for all of the previous classes. What is the plan to teach veteran players on how to learn this new system for a class they played?
It’s actually the opposite; we feel it will be simpler. We visually expressed these mechanics for these jobs. Previously, you would need to pay attention to buff icons and how many you have stacked to keep up with the status of your job. By implementing a graphical reference to show which state you are it should make simple for players to grasp.
White Mage has some changes in Stormblood. Can you tell us more about your vision is for White Mage as a class?
There could have been some miscommunication, by no means are we saying the White Mage will become a pure healer. It’s the abilities of the White Mage for pure healing will increase. For example, the amount of healing one would receive after healing will be more. There is a specific action for the White Mage where you can recover HP fully, you can also create barriers and the amount of HP recovered for party members is higher for a White Mage. With all of these things combined, we feel the abilities that relate to pure healing have been improved.
Having abilities to heal rapidly gives you more wiggle room to choose your actions and this actually provides an opportunity, if you so choose, to attack. The amount of healing you receive is higher in one heal and you don’t need to continue healing your party until the last minute. Of course, a white mage is a healer role so we bolstered pure healing capabilities and we aren’t saying you should attack because you are healer. If we do mention something like that maybe people will think white mage has to attack now.
I think the best way to see how the changes have been implemented is to try the expansion out. We feel that we have strengthened the White Mage’s healing abilities it also allows room to strategize different actions.
I’m excited about Red Mage and in Final Fantasy XIV it is a hybrid magic DPS character which is different from the support character role in Final Fantasy XI and the traditional jack-of-all-trades type of character in classic Final Fantasy. How did you design the role for Red Mage while considering the legacy of the Final Fantasy series?
You bring up a very good point because that was the biggest concern for the development team. How can we implement the Red Mage into Final Fantasy XIV while making it so people who have an image of the Red Mage in mind feel this is the Red Mage they wanted? The team had a passionate debate about it and talked back and forth about is it OK to implement the Red Mage. It would be a big shock for the team if players reacted by saying this isn’t the Red Mage we wanted.
Because the Red Mage can use black magic and white magic and have a high amount of DPS people may think the Red Mage can do everything. On the flip side, it can also be a hybrid job. It may not be as effective of a healer compared to a White Mage. Its casting might not be as effective as a Black Mage and when it comes to melee damage how can it beat the Dragoon? We thought carefully about how we can maintain the image of the character and how it can function properly in the game.
When we were thinking about this in terms of the battle system my team came up with a great idea of balancing black and white mana and being able to deal powerful attacks while maintaining that balance. Also you can execute spellblade to deal high melee DPS. We also thought about how to make its look stylish and that combination came together to create a new Red Mage for Final Fantasy XIV.
How do you balance a character’s personality between the mechanics compared to a character’s look or stylish movements it makes?
Hmm… we prioritize the gameplay experience when you control a player controls their character. Until we solidify those controls only then do we think about animations to add to that. Then we request the animation team to create actions. That’s when we choose different themes. Stylish, for example, was one of the themes for the Red Mage. We wanted to create flashy and graceful movements. Once we get mock ups we might tweak it to be more snappy or speedier.
How did the team come up with the adorable Odder Otter minion?
It’s going to be introduced into the game with a particular piece of content. [Laughs] There are certain members of the development team who love the Odder Otter and have been pushing for it saying it will be the most loveable minion we have. There is also going to be a catfish-looking minion and there are other members pushing for that one. We have these two factions in the development saying this one is going to be more popular or this one is going to be more popular. When the content is released we hope players will vote on the minion they like and if they like both that’s fine too. Maybe if we have demand for it we can make merchandise for it.
What is the process the development team goes through when making a new minion?
[Laughs] They kind of do it on their own basically. Sometimes it’s the art team drawing sketches and then they talk about it with the team that creates items. An art team member may ask someone from the item team what do you think of this character. Then an item team member might say this design is cool and we should start creating it without telling Yoshida-san. Sometimes the design gets brought to me at the last minute. [Laughs]
With the launch of Stormblood we are planning for over 20 minions to be included. For those completionists, go for it and try to collect them all!