Every new patch and expansion is an opportunity for Final Fantasy XIV. Square Enix’s team constantly adds to the game, changes things to ensure they work better, and attempts to make it a more inviting place. Ahead of the FFXIV Endwalker expansion, Siliconera spoke with Director and Producer Naoki Yoshida about making sure there wouldn’t be another Stormblood situation, dealing with toxic behavior, data centers in China and Korea, and Lopporits.
When Stormblood released, the server congestion was such that some players couldn’t access the main story quests. They would actually have to wait in line in order to be able to take part and advance the story. Have there been any precautionary measures taken with FFXIV Endwalker to prevent that issue, especially as the player base and general server population have grown over the years?
Naoki Yoshida, Square Enix: I’m sure you all were familiar with the “I beat Raubahn Extreme” as we were all calling it. But the user congestion that did happen and the long queues for that were an unfortunate mistake in the way we designed the quest and how it was structured. It was a problem with the quest instance and the way it was balanced and how it was supporting the queue that would accumulate for that particular instance.
Of course we did a thorough post-mortem leading up to Shadowbringers. By then, we revisited how we built our storylines and we made sure to fix it from the fundamental level. So we won’t have a case where there’s a large queue for a particular content.
We were also mindful to create a strong backup, so that we are enforcing proper accommodations for any sort of queue that would form for a particular content. I’m hoping that there will not be a case where we have a Raubahn Extreme. But that being said, it is a different issue with just a physical surge of players. So I’d like to go into that as well.
In terms of the number of players that are coming into the game physically, as mentioned in the official forums and the letter post we had made, we are doing our best to kind of increase the capacity of concurrent players of course. We are trying to bolster the ability to accept and receive more players coming in. So once you are able to log in, there should not be much of a queue. We have these instanced areas even in sanctuaries and things like that so we can accommodate for more people coming in.
But that being said, there still might be some issues with queue times in that sort of log in lobby before you even get into the game. That is something that we need to be very careful about.
And so, of course, leading up to the launch of Endwalker, we definitely want to optimize so that more people can queue in at one time or log in at the same time. But in order for us to do so and to fundamentally eradicate that issue is to add more physical servers and add more worlds to our game. In order for us to do that, though, we do need to have physical servers.
Unfortunately, with the pandemic, there is a severe shortage of semiconductors right now. Even if we’re able to pay for them, there’s just a physical lack of them. And so we would love to add more capacity, more worlds, to our game. It is quite a problem at this time. It really pains me that we are in such a situation, but we are trying our best. We are trying to make it so as many people as possible are able to log into our game.
With the new influx of additional players coming to play FFXIV, people have expressed concerns about toxicity in the game. How do you intend to improve reporting and the response to the harmful behavior in Endwalker?
Yoshida: We already have a sort of flow in place. Did you want to get an overview of what we already have in place or are you asking about any sort of additional countermeasures?
Additional measures you might take. If people see people in the world and would need to report if someone is using harmful language. If they are being harmful to another person. If they are trying to scam them. Things like that.
Yoshida: Understood. Thank you for the clarification. Right before Endwalker, I think North America may have this problem pretty predominantly. The party finder forums. People would be using that as means to sell things that are not necessarily appropriate for our content. In order for us to enforce the rules and go after those—not illegal, but those that are penalizable activities—we are revisiting our user agreement. Making sure that we are taking a fine-tooth comb and kind of updating the language so that it makes it easier to enforce the rules and try to go after those who are abusing our system.
And of course, with times changing, I’m sure there are different values that people hold. How things are perceived might differ per person. Whenever we do update our user agreement, we do want to be clear in our language as well. If there are any sort of punishable activities, we will make it clear in the language and verbiage of the document. Some people might think a certain way of saying things was meant to be a joke, but the receiving end might not necessarily take it as such.
By clearly defining some of these more in depth items, we’re hoping that it will allow for us to maintain a sort of healthy environment for our players and to have more fun and enjoy the game content more. You may see in on our Zoom call we have Foxclon, Mr. [Toshio] Murouchi, and Matt [Hilton], who are our community leaders who are also working hard behind the updating of the user agreement.
And I do want to clarify here. With the update of our user agreement with Endwalker, our intent is not to, sort of, tie down our players. We by no means want to restrict our players from playing and enjoying the game. In fact, we are trying to do this so that we get rid of the more toxic folks, so to speak, who abuse the system. Who wants to exploit our game and cause unnecessary harm to our players. So it is meant to provide a more healthy and wholesome environment for our players, so that we will feel safe in trying to play the game. I do want to make sure that that point is understood.
Would the development team consider playable Loporrits in FFXIV Endwalker if the demand is there? And if so, how would the development process look for them since they will already be present as NPCs?
Yoshida: I want to share some behind-the-scenes discussion about the Loporrits, actually. Compared to the player characters, they have fewer polygons and fewer bones to rig? And so they’re not as high-quality as some of the playable characters who have more elaborate movement available. Whenever I checked the behaviors—like whenever they’re talking—they weren’t moving very much. Nor were they like… you know, they were… the quality was not all there! So I actually told my team members, “Come on. Let’s brush it up a little bit more here.”
They’re not playable, but once you do see them as NPCs, they have been improved. They will be very cute as they move around as NPCs.
But considering their sort of tribes and the nature of those Lopporits. They’re not the fighting types. They don’t really… they’re not fit for battle. I don’t know if they have the quality to become a hero.
But they do play an important role throughout the main scenarios. Not just their looks, but I am hoping that you’ll be enchanted by your encounter with them in the story.
At any point after FFXIV Endwalker’s release or the coming patches, will the Korean or Chinese servers be available to select from the list of available Data Centers for people in North American, Europe, and Japan? What with so many people being multilingual now or having friends and family around the world?
Yoshida: So I’m afraid the versions for the Chinese release and the Korean release, and those two are also independent of each other, are separate services. And then the story progression is also a little bit behind.
So I’m afraid with what we call the “global version,” which is the North America, Europe, and Japan version, characters from that version are different from the versions in China and in South Korea. I’m afraid it’s not really feasible to take a character out of those data centers to go into the Chinese or Korean versions.
And trying to access, I think this especially applies for the Chinese version, unfortunately even setting up an account or trying their data centers over there is out of our control. It is managed by the China side. There are different laws and regulations in China that can only allow for citizens of the country to access their online games and things like that. There’s like a specific sort of citizen ID number of sorts that you would have to already possess in order to access. So I’m afraid it’s kind of out of our hands.
As for South Korea, that one has less restrictions for internet access. But I think you still need some kind of citizen ID in order for you to set up an account. And plus I’m not sure if the operations team for the Korean version… I believe they have closed off access from international connections.
But, I mean, I would love the opportunity if we can have all of our players from literally around the world to come together and do one giant fan festival.
Editor’s Note: This interview was edited lightly for clarity.
Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker will launch on the PS4, PS5, and PC on November 23, 2021. People who pre-order will gain access on November 19, 2021. You can read more about Siliconera’s experience with an in-progress build of FFXIV Endwalker in our preview.