‘Ups and downs with the COVID-19 situation here in Japan have led to a lot of emotional strain’
Final Fantasy XIV still driving a truck. I never expected it to play the original incarnation at E3 so many years ago: stop, look around and think “can this not be?” Alas, Square Enix savant Naoki “Yoshi P” Yoshida turned the game around with the tireless efforts of his team, and now we have “A Realm Reborn.” And uh, lots of successful expansions.
I realized that it was high time to check in with Yoshida on how the development went over the last year, and to get a little taste of the coming Endwalker expansion.
Destructoid: How has the pandemic continued to affect development? Your team was extremely accommodating about delays with previous updates, which everyone appreciated. Have things stabilized more now in the future?
Naoki “Yoshi P” Yoshida: Even now, most of our employees continue their development work at home, and they get used to this environment. Although we have been able to create this new work environment fairly quickly, we cannot forget the emotional impact caused by the drastic change in our work environment ̵1; something that takes time to heal. Before all this, our team worked and saw each other face to face for many years, where we could happen to approach someone nearby and chat on the spot if something was on our mind. In addition, there are some aspects that we can only improve in small steps: for example, assessing the workflow that corresponds with this new work environment, mental health care, or the increase in time and resources senior executives face to manage communication in teams.
To achieve this, if I am asked: “Have you completely returned to the same efficiency as before?” then the answer would be no. If we are to say that our efficiency at that time was 100%, then we are still 2-3% below that. Although this does not make up much if we look at it in a few days or weeks, if you combine the loss we incur over a few months, this really starts to add up. We are still doing our best to compensate for this deficit and are even trying to make a profit compared to our previous environment, but the ups and downs of the COVID-19 situation here in Japan have led to a lot of emotional strain, so I think We need to keep looking for ways to make long-term improvements. Despite all this, the development team has been able to stay focused on their work, so we continue to do our best to deliver content as planned!
How would you like to sell fans in the Reaper class? What makes them sing in ways that other DPS classes cannot compete with?
Aesthetically, I think a big selling point will of course be the dark atmosphere and stylish actions of the cut. Since we are still continuing the development of the job, there is a limit to the assets we can share, but when the summer is over, I should be able to talk more about actions and job mechanics, so please.
When it comes to differences with other melee DPS jobs, the existence of an avatar naturally comes to mind. Look forward to it.
Bringing back the Magus Sisters fits so well XIV, especially given his penchant for bringing in old fan favorites who are equally recurring enemies. What other characters do you think can fit this bill and who is on your wish list for classic Final Fantasy cast members to finally appear in Eorzea?
This is a question we get from time to time, but honestly we do not have a “wish list” of this type. (laughs) Members of the development team may have a separate list of their favorite characters, but we do not actually have a physical list. There is a reason for this – in development FFXIV, one of our concepts for the game is a “theme park”, but our goal through it is not to create a game where all the characters from Final Fantasy series looks like. The FFXIV original history and development around what comes first, and we prioritize content planning based on that mindset. This is because we try to deliver the best story and gaming experience through Final Fantasy XIV itself.
However, during the process of shaping the overall story and associated content, if a situation or character with similar characteristics from a past occurs Final Fantasy title, there are times when these tributes are adopted as a kind of fan service – this time it happened to be the Magus sisters. To be completely honest, though, we do not even know which elements or characters we will respect next. (clay)
I’ll check in again on alliance attacks. How successful are they still? I think the availability of these is one of the elements that sets FFXIV apart from the rest of the genre, but will you continue to make them until the game ends?
I think content that FFXIVAlliance attacks are good because they allow players to have fun taking on challenges in a larger group of multiple parties, which lowers the amount of personal responsibility for each player for a more relaxed experience. It is also an opportunity for us as a development team to invest resources on a larger scale to create epic battles with magnificent presentations. Through this, players who are not so good at combat content can experience both history and battles, while increasing the equipment level through the equipment rewards from the alliance raids. This content is also meaningful for players who have taken a break from the game for a while, as it can help them get back on track in terms of match content, and also get better equipment. With all this in mind, I would say that I feel that alliance attacks are without a doubt a success. I think we will continue to make these until the end of the service, but if we can think of good ways to develop alliance raids, we can look to do so even further. (clay)
It was actually the desire of the development team to take on a new challenge that led us to move in the direction of original content. They will use the knowledge, experience and combat mechanic knowledge they have acquired over the last four years with our great crossover – namely Return to Ivalice and YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse content – to tackle one of the biggest mysteries in Eorzea!