Interview w/ Naoki Yoshida

Every once in awhile MogTalk gets the privilege of being able to ask a few questions directly to Yoshida-san, the producer and director of Final Fantasy XIV (Critically acclaimed MMORPG that can play through the entirety of A Realm Reborn and the award-winning Heavensward expansion up to level 60 for FREE with no restrictions on playtime). In most interviews, the goal is to cover a little bit of raiding, PvP, and a few selfish questions I have myself. This interview was no different. Without any more delay, below are the questions I had for the Naoki Yoshida and the answers he gave.

Question 1:

Frosty: Hello Yoshida san! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I’d like to first pose a few topics from the raiding community.

Did you and the development team watch players progress through and solve the mechanics in Delubrum Reginae (Savage) on the first clears following release? If so, what was your reaction or thoughts in regards to how the first groups completed the content? Did anything surprise you or catch your attention in particular?

Naoki Yoshida: Thank you, as always, for your support! There are quite a few Japanese players who watch MogTalk, and I’m sure they look forward to new episodes of the show as we do. Now, onto the questions!

We always watch along as players take on new content. With Delubrum Reginae, I was surprised at how quickly players discovered the secret of the “Mini” trap… I believe people may have been able to guess the secret since there was a somewhat similar hidden mechanic in the Baldesion Arsenal, but even so I was simply amazed by our players’ power of observation—hats off to them. Next time we develop content like BA and DR, I’ll make sure there is more of a twist to these kinds of things. (laughs)

Because this was the first 48-person, high-difficulty raid in the game, many of the boss fight mechanics were intended to be handled by each individual. While that was a deliberate choice, next time I’m thinking of adding more mechanics that need to be handled by groups! (evil grin)

Question 2:

Frosty: Are there any additional types of content or additions to existing content you have considered introducing with Endwalker (or beyond) for players who like challenging raid content? While we currently do have savage and ultimate raids, and occasionally another type of large-scale challenge like BA or DR Savage, I’d be curious to know the stance on bringing new challenging content to the game—perhaps something like savage difficulty dungeons.

Naoki Yoshida: I’d like to refrain from giving away too many specifics at this time, but I think the chances of doing large-scale, challenging content is greater than creating high-difficulty content meant for smaller groups. It’s not that we are unable to create high-difficulty content for small groups, but currently I am a bit more hesitant with that direction overall.

In the case of a four-player high-difficulty dungeon, there is much less room for players to work with when it comes to party deaths or mistakes. If even a single party member is incapacitated or makes a mistake, it will invariably lead to a wipe, with not much leeway to save the run or come up with a creative solution. Another major reason is because our community continues to grow—naturally this is bringing in many casual players, and I believe that when looking at the bigger pictures, large-scale content will be easier for all players to get into.

If anything, one possibility might be high-difficulty floor(s) of the Deep Dungeon series… but please stay tuned for future announcements!

Question 3:

Frosty: Is there any chance we will see “Challenge Achievements” implemented for Savage raids in the future? For example, clearing a fight within a certain time limit or with disadvantageous conditions? It seems like a feature that could extend the content in an interesting way for raiders that like to challenge themselves.

Naoki Yoshida: I do feel there’s room for consideration on this type of addition, and for the last year or so I’ve been pondering some rough ideas on how this could work. I did consider the possibility of a condition to “clear a certain dungeon in a specified amount of time,” but there are many things to consider, even something as simple as “how do we determine the “beginning” and “end”? Though I suppose if we implemented a clock or timer that counts down after players enter the dungeon, it wouldn’t be impossible. I will continue to look into this a bit more and give it some thought.

Question 4:

Frosty: When it comes to raid content, are there specific identities the team envisions for the each of the DPS job roles (melee, physical ranged, and ranged magic)? Now that we can expect another melee DPS with Endwalker—which nearly balances the number of ranged and melee jobs—has the team change the way they approach designing raids to account for the potential shift of number of players playing in these different job roles? I’m curious if the damage bonus for having each DPS role in a group has any relation to how the team feels about raid composition and job identities!

Naoki Yoshida: Each of the DPS roles do have a clear, intended place in battle, but it would be appreciated if you can allow me to refrain from making that information public. The reason I ask this is that depending on how these roles fit within a specific piece of content, there could be cases in which those intentions cannot be fully realized. We always strive to meet our goals for each role, but there are times where we have to deviate from these intentions, or that it happens despite our best efforts. We try to adjust how much damage one can deal without making any one DPS role more advantageous than the other, but it is truly difficult to perfect this.

You may have noticed this already, but starting with each piece of battle content in Patch 5.4, we’ve been very careful to make sure we’re doing additional testing to ensure melee DPS are not at too much of a disadvantage. We paid specific attention to things such as the size of the boss’ hitbox and max melee range to ensure a more level playing field for the roles.

When it comes to the topic of adding new jobs with an expansion pack release, both I and the development team are very particular about adding a DPS as a new job. Inevitably, many players prefer to play DPS jobs and deal damage. Due to this tendency, I believe it is imperative to add a DPS role to entice new players as well as satisfy existing players. Balancing out the number is based on our hope that the selection does not become skewed.

Question 5:

Frosty: I would of course also like to ask questions our PvP players may be interested in. You mentioned in February the plan for a new small-scale PvP mode—is there anything you can hint at in terms of exactly what scale “small-scale” might be? Is this something just smaller than our current Frontlines, or could this mean something as small scale or even smaller than the Feast (2v2 duels, for example)?

Naoki Yoshida: I will create an opportunity to provide more details separately, so I will avoid getting into too many details. However, generally speaking, it will be much smaller than Frontline, while being at least the same, or slightly larger scale than the Feast. One reason for this is that the Feast tends to put a lot of pressure and responsibility on each individual player due to how few can participate at one time.

That’s all I can say for the time being—oh, but we’ve decided on the content’s name!

Question 6:

Frosty: You also mentioned this PvP content might be a bit more “casual,” but will there still be room for those who want challenging PvP content with rankings? Will this content feature any sort of leaderboard or competitive aspect that current Feast players can look forward to?

Naoki Yoshida: I do feel that an element of competition is very important, so I would like to continue supporting that aspect moving forward. Furthermore, I plan on implementing a new reward system in order to increase the number of competitors joining.

Question 7:

Frosty: Lastly, I will ask a few selfish questions on content I am interested in! I’m definitely excited for new content coming to Gold Saucer, but I can’t help but wonder if any of the older content will see any updates…such as Chocobo Racing! You’ve told me previously Chocobo racing was created by just one team member who now is a part of the raid development team. Do you ever think to give a “newbie developer” a chance to make a new map for it?

Naoki Yoshida: Honestly, there is so much content available currently that we have not been able to dedicate resources to maintain or update all of it… (grimace)

However, we were able to allocate resources to updating Triple Triad, and I think we are in a good spot with that now. I have been thinking about what we should work on next…so I’ll keep that in mind as a candidate. (laughs)

Question 8:

Frosty: I’ve enjoyed Lord of Verminion and its use of minions to create an RTS-like mini-game. Is there any chance we will see minions used similarly in other mini-games? Something I always thought would be fun is a 1v1 mini-game using a turn-based battle system, similar to Final Fantasy Tactics.

Naoki Yoshida: I think that’s a very interesting idea, but in order to make it like the masterpiece that is FINAL FANTASY TACTICS, we would require significant sensibilities in battle and level design… That being said, I’ve always wanted to create some kind of content using minions, or a card battle game that’s different from Triple Triad, or even content that utilizes the gambit system, so I am definitely looking into the possibilities.

I’m trying to consider ways that make things like these fundamentally easier to implement, but it will require years of preparations, so hope you don’t mind a bit of a wait. :p

Last Statement:

Frosty: Instead of a final question, I’d like to just say a few words.

I’ve been working with the FFXIV community for over 6 years now – interviewing players and discussing the game in over 200 podcasts, helping the community track the world race for Savage and Ultimate, working in official events on stage at Fan Fest for the Feast Regional Championship, and most recently running a charity event for the world race managing over 40 volunteer staff members (which raised tens of thousands of dollars for children in hospitals to receive video games).

Never in my life did I expect the game to be such a huge part of my life, but working with the FFXIV community has become something I love to do. Without the hard work of your team and yourself, which created such a great game and fostered a passionate community, I would have never done it.

All in all, I would like to personally thank you and everyone on the FFXIV team, from the developers to the community managers. I’m excited to see what ways I can continue to work with the community in the future.

Naoki Yoshida: We always look forward to seeing your FFXIV content and activities, and we are very thankful for your dedication and contribution, Frosty! You had played a large part in exciting the players for the world first races, and I really appreciate that! Just one thing—the comments from members of the world first teams during your interviews with them can sting a bit, so whenever you do those interviews, it would be helpful if you could get them to say some nice comments or take our side in the conversation! (laughs) Come to think of it, during the Eden’s Promise raid series, there was a bard who said something along the lines of “It’s because Yoshida didn’t play this content,” but I happened to beat all of the fights, and even did pretty well I think—please let them know that! Well, my skill probably pales in comparison to theirs, but……lol