Many of you have been asking about Final Fantasy XIV since its announcement a few months back at E3. During my Gamescom Cologne stay, Square Enix invited me to a small roundtable discussion (along with some new friends at ZAM) with Final Fantasy XIV producer Hiromichi Tanaka and Sage Sundi. Our 30 minutes flew by, but we definitely got to some good stuff, which you can read in its entirely below.
PlayStation Blog: You recently talked at E3 about how the game closely relates to Final Fantasy XI. How have the monsters and races changed from FF XI to XIV.
Hiromichi Tanaka: Because we’re using a new graphic engine, the graphics are really different from FFXI and you can see more details on both monsters and races. Regarding the races, to encourage people to shift smoothly from FFXI, you will see very similar types of classes. But if you actually make your own character, you’ll be able to select your own colour of hair, skin, eye color, shape of your face, etc. There will be a wide range of variety to customize.
PSB: After E3, you mentioned there might be a way to transfer your name over from FFXI. Is that still planned – are you still working on that? Is there a plan on how you’re going to do it?
Tanaka: It hasn’t been confirmed yet, but we would like to give incentives to the players. First of all, FFXI has 32 worlds, and they may have the same name across different worlds, as I’m sure you know. Each name in each world has to be a unique; there can’t be conflicts with other players. However, when we have FFXIV, we still don’t know how many worlds there’s going to be yet, but players might have the same name if they all move to the same world, so there may be conflicts. So, to avoid that, what we’re trying to do is add a surname to their name, so players can keep their main name, but they can add something else to their surname – that way players with overlapping names can keep their names from FFXI, but they can add something on to it to make it unique.
PSB: You mentioned that the combat system will have less of a team play aspect. Can you elaborate on that, and how it’s different, and how much progress you’ve made in the past few months since it was announced?
Tanaka: For FFXI, the system was job based, so that’s why they had a party to make the most out of each job. This time it’s not going to be a job based system, it’s going to be an Armoury system, so it depends on which weapon you use and you can switch your class. That allows the player to use a different ability or skills. You can also join a party, that doesn’t mean you have to play solo, but it will allow you to play solo as well, because you can fight against monsters and you can change to a healer to heal yourself. So there will be more variety and it depends on what you plan on doing for that day.
PSB: The leveling system was described as not being experienced based. Can you explain exactly what kind of system you’re working on, and if it’s been completely defined?
Tanaka: This time it really depends on the Armoury system. It’s going to depend on how much you use your own equipment and weapons. The more you use it, the more the skill will go up of your class, so that’s the way you will get to higher levels for the class – the skills. You’ll also get abilities. It’s not going to be like if you fight more monsters, you’ll get more level ups, like similar to the experience system. Of course, if you fight against monsters, you will get some skill points, but it will help more if you attend to Guildleves. So that will be a more efficient way to hone your skills and ‘level up’ your character.
PSB: Are they any games that you have been influenced by that have done the online experience particularly well, even if outside of MMOs?
Tanaka: We don’t have any specific title that we’ve been influence by or have done research on, but if we should say one title it would be Final Fantasy XI as we are trying to achieve something different from FFXI. Even though the game worlds may seem and look similar, the game and how we are going to expand it will provide a totally different game experience.
On the other other hand, we listen to the community, and of course they have much experience in MMOs. In that sense, we receive from and keep up with the MMO-based community.
PSB: Are you still planning a spring 2010 beta?
Tanaka: We can’t really say any certain timing, because the launch is planned to release is 2010. So that means in springtime there will probably be something at that point. We are trying to work as soon as possible, so as soon as preparation is done, there could be something earlier than 2010.