In contrast to the high-octane trailer that had opened the day, the final event for the first day of the Final Fantasy XIV fan festival was quiet and subdued. Of course, it was also for a very different audience, with numerous press representatives gathered into a small conference room for a quick session of questions and answers with producer and director Naoki Yoshida about the day’s revelations.
If this seems trivial, please note that prior expansion announcements have introduced zones only after announcing the region in question, so in 2016 we were told that we would explore Ala Mhigo before some of the zones were previewed, and in 2014 we were told that we were going to Ishgard first and foremost. This year, we were just told the names of two new zones. Was that an intentional omission?
Yoshida made it clear that while the development team does indeed know where players are going, in order to help preserve the mystery of 4.5 and how we arrive there, the name of the overall region was intentionally obscured. Which, at a glance, would seem to suggest that it’s not actually Garlemald… although that is also getting into speculation, something he encouraged without further information.
Why the drop for 32-bit Windows support? Yoshida explained two main reasons. First and foremost, less than two percent of the playerbase is currently using a 32-bit client, meaning that it only affects a small number of players. Furthermore, the limitation created a bottleneck for the future, which meant that now was the time to start addressing that limitation before running into it full-speed.
Questions were asked about both a Spanish localization and Oceanic data centers, and in both cases the reasons for those things not currently existing are matters of business concerns and logistics. (For example, the staff doesn’t have a localization team specialist for Spanish.) In both cases, however, the team knows that these are things which can and should be improved in the future.
So, will Trust companions make the game into a single-player title? Not in the least; FFXIV is meant as an MMORPG and will remain as such, but there are players who are reluctant to get started in the game and the requirements of grouping. Thus, the challenge was to provide an option for players to functionally have single-player “training wheels” without making Trusts the main way to play the game.
Striking the balance is difficult, but allowing you to get through the MSQ with these companions means that you don’t need to use other players as you get acclimated. At the same time, it will make some content easier with other players instead of NPCs. It’s a way for players to learn, not to avoid grouping.
Yoshida was also asked about the game’s current raid metagame, with certain jobs seen as the “right” choice and others as sub-optimal or undesirable. However, Yoshida explained that from the data the team sees, all of the jobs are reasonably well represented in overall content and high-end clears, which means that perception is likely the main culprit. It’s just a matter of keeping all the jobs balanced, which will be adjusted further in Shadowbringers.
When asked about the genesis of the fan festivals themselves, Yoshida mentioned having been a fan of MMOs prior to running FFXIV and also seeing events like BlizzCon take off. Of course, before he could even think about that, he had to first build FFXIV into a state wherein it was worth spending the money on having a convention; similarly, he recognized that simply having the event without any big exciting stuff like announcements would defeat the purpose. So every festival, while expensive, is always meant to include something fun as a reveal.
Meanwhile, on the subject of the announced endgame content for crafters and gatherers, Yoshida mentioned that this is something new for players to explore and is meant to be difficult as a long-term project. One of the major elements left hanging in Ishgard was the divide between the wealthy and the impoverished, and one of the goals of the reconstruction effort will be to bridge that gap. As always, more will be revealed as release draws closer.
A question was raised about ERP brothels, to which he simply replied that illegal activity reported to the GMs would be investigated and, if necessary, punished. In short, the EULA is the EULA. (He did repeatedly stress that this covered illegal acts, such as harassment.)
The merging of TP and MP was also brought up, and Yoshida mentioned that this is not actually difficult to accomplish from a technical standpoint. The UI team does, however, have quite a bit of work to do as a result; this is indeed a big change for several parts of the game. More details about how exactly the split will be handled will be addressed as launch draws closer.
So why aren’t we getting another Ultimate-tier fight in 4.5? Yoshida mentioned that there were original plans to have a new one in each odd-numbered patch, but feedback from the release of Unending Coil was that it was brtual, and further feedback from the Ultima Weapon fight was that this might be too many fights of this style. So that plan was shelved, but it is something considered for the future of the game.
Last and arguably least came the question asked every Q&A. Content releases are very polished and regular, but as a result they’re predictable. What will the team do to shake that up?
Yoshida’s response, in part, was pointing out that the developers have been shaking it up the whole time. With additions like Eureka, Deep Dungeon, and the Ultimate series – along with Blue Mage in 4.5 – there’s been a lot of new and experimental stuff, which somehow always gets left out of these discussions.
Beyond that, when delivering content with a certain level of quality on a fixed timeline, some elements will naturally wind up being predictable. That’s an inevitability. He can understand people asking about it, but ignoring the hard work the development team has put into bringing out new elements on a regular basis is unfair to the developers.
There were a few more questions not included here because the answer was simply “wait for tomorrow’s letter.”
Obviously, fans and media still have many unanswered questions, but the conference was a nice chance to get through some of them. And sometimes, finding out that there’s a reason for not answering a question is itself an answer.