At the end of day one of the Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival, Producer & Director Naoki Yoshida answered questions about Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail and FFXIV in general with a selection of press in attendance. We were there, and while our questions about eyeglasses, Dawntrail’s setting of Tural, and whether we will see more purple/violet-hued dyes in the future were not selected for the presentation, we did get some insightful answers to 15 questions submitted by other outlets, so give it all a read below! Also, don’t miss our detailed post on Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail‘s announcement from yesterday.
Intro by Mike Salbato, conference report written up by Mario Garcia
You mentioned the theme color for Dawntrail is gold; could you tell us what kind of guidance you provided to Mr. Yoshitaka Amano when you asked him to create the illustrated logo? – Akira Chigira, Famitsu
Yoshi-P: When we were discussing the logo illustration with Mr. Amano, I did relay to him that our theme is adventure. We went to the end of the universe and saved the planet.
We are going to have our Warriors of Light embark on this new adventure in this area that we refer to as the New World by boat. I conveyed to him that we’re trying to capture this feeling of excitement of uncharted territories. We see that new continent. There’s a major landmark in the new area that is a large palace of sorts. We want to make sure that we’re capturing that excitement and anticipation. I know that we mentioned that the theme is gold. It’s interesting because when we spoke with Mr. Amano, he was working in black and white.
Because of Mr. Amano’s delicate touch and the way he chooses his color palette, we didn’t want to lose integrity. We received the illustration in black and white, and our team added the color afterward. I do want to admit lastly that there was something I was very reckless in requesting from Mr. Amano. He’s going to work in black and white, and I tell him to please add a rainbow in there! We really pay attention to how Mr. Amano depicts his illustrations and what kind of touch he uses. It’s very inspiring. We take inspiration from the work that he provides us with. We’ve done a lot of back and forth about discussing and getting guidance. We are very pleased about the logo that we came up with. We’re excited for you to see how the logo crosses over into the aesthetics of the cinematics when Dawntrail releases!
Endwalker brought an end to the story we’ve been following since the beginning of
FFXIV. Dawntrail starts a whole new story. Do you already have an idea of how vast this story will be and how many more expansions will develop it? – Matúš Štrba, Sektor.sk
Yoshi-P: I just wanted to clarify one thing. It wasn’t necessarily our intention to write one long continuous story since the beginning of Final Fantasy XIV. Of course, we would foreshadow certain elements. We’ve been doing that since ARR, as you’ve been noticing certain clues that hint at future elements. That’s always with the mindset of placing foreshadowing here in hopes that we get to further delve into it. Every time we get new expansions, we hope to connect those lines together. With Dawntrail, we’re going to be doing something similar. We’re going to go back to elements that we’ve been foreshadowing and seeing what we can connect with the new story. In terms of whether this will be as long as the previous arc, that kind of depends on our players and whether everybody likes the story and wants it to be continued.
Of course, we have so many ideas. We have enough ideas to fill two full expansion packs. I wouldn’t be able to tell you what they are, of course.
Were you inspired by any specific cultures in the real world to create the regions featured in Dawntrail? – Ramón Baylos González, Areajugones
Yoshi-P: To give you the short answer, yes, there is. That said, we want to keep it as a surprise for when we reveal more information. For now, all we can say is yes, there is inspiration, but please look forward to more information in the future.
What will be the features in Dawntrail that will help old players to get back to the game or even bring new players to the adventures in this new area? How can they avoid getting lost in the current lore and get up-to-date to play Dawntrail? – Jeancarlos Mota, IGN Brasil
Yoshi-P: Right now, what we already have since patch 6.1 is a system where you can go back and read about the different characters and the lore throughout the stories. We are considering methods for how players who want to skip into the latest content can just jump into it.
It’s interesting; this question gets asked every time an expansion gets announced. I’m sure you all are familiar, but regardless even if we release an expansion pack, our old content isn’t truly old. We continue to update it and expand our content; it’s very story driven. Would new people be eager to just jump into the new expansion pack? I wonder.
With the Duty Support system, we have NPCs that will come along with you for the Main Scenario quests. We’ve allowed it so that you don’t necessarily have to play with other players. We’ve made it so that you can do it solo. I understand the TV analogy: like this is season 6, and people may want to jump into the latest season. But we’ve made the earliest seasons easy to get into.
We’re trying to debate whether or not this is something that we would actively be pushing forward.
The way that Fan Fest rolls out development staff like rockstars is pretty unique, what do you and the development team feel like at events like Fan Fest, where you will so often be stopped and asked for photos, et cetera? – Sayem Ahmed, GLHF
Yoshi-P: We’re not necessarily treating them like rockstars when we bring them out, though. Our intention is not to flaunt around like a rockstar. Our job is to make games. Typically speaking, I don’t think that developers are meant to be out in the forefront like that. When I’m on a livestream, I see some comments like “Oh, Yoshida has gotten old,” or “Oh, he’s gotten fat.” I’m sure nobody wants to see that. With this being an MMORPG, I think it’s very important that we have a mutual understanding between players, members of the media, and developers.
With a game that accumulates a whole lot of content and systems, it is important to be able to see what the players want, what the developers want, what the media wants to report on, and being able to communicate that. Having that mutual understanding allows for an MMO, which is basically a game as a service, to remain interesting.
I’m flattered and honored being stopped for photos. I do want to point out one thing; I would love to accommodate as long as you guys are okay with a middle-aged man.
When I went to the first North American Fan Festival, I was out at the casino area, and somebody asked if they could pick me up princess-style. You might be able to find that photo online, actually. There was one girl who asked me in Japan, “Can I do a backdrop on you?” Like do a wrestling move and swing you backward. As long as it’s fun and interesting, I’m open to it. There is one thing I want to caution against. There was this one time I took a photo with five other people. They mentioned they’re in the same Free Company. The photo was uploaded to their social channels. I saw the picture online, and my face appeared in the photo, but everyone else was anonymized. Was there a point in uploading that? We’re having a good time. We have to ask permission to upload photographs, but I encourage you to show your face and show us that you’re having a good time.
Can you tell us about some of the greatest moments you have experienced with FFXIV? The milestones you have reached as its Producer and Director or some of the experiences you have made as a player and a part of the community? – Eric Mittman, TAG24
Yoshi-P: This answer might sound familiar. When we did our first Fan Festival in Las Vegas, within the context of the former version of Final Fantasy XIV starting and ending as a failure, we were trying to rebuild it as A Realm Reborn. At that time, when everybody was checking in for registration, there was a machine malfunction. So the lines started to build and build and build.
The PR Director at that time noticed this crowd becoming more frustrated. They approached me and asked if I could come out to the registration lines and apologize to the crowd and show our regrets.
With that context, I go out expecting to apologize and feel really bad out there. Once I started to say I’m sorry, fans noticed and started clapping and cheering. They were very grateful that FFXIV was relaunched. There were many fans out there who thanked me for rebuilding FFXIV. One man in his teens told me I was his hero. I’m just a Japanese person who came over to make video games, so I was so humbled and very relieved that what we were working hard on paid off. I think that is the most memorable moment that I could never forget.
With the pandemic happening and media interviews forced to be done over Zoom, we didn’t have that kind of interaction with one another. And we couldn’t do our Fan Festival in person either. Now that we’ve done Day 1 and played that Dawntrail trailer and felt that energy from that, it was similar to that first festival.
Ten years on, what sort of balance do you consider when looking at fan feedback and requests versus your own philosophies for what Final Fantasy XIV should be? – Erren Van Duine, Nova Crystallis
Yoshi-P: In terms of how I strike a balance, actually, it’s not explainable by words, so to speak. Being a gamer myself and also a Warrior of Light playing in Final Fantasy XIV, there are many points of feedback that I could totally understand. When you look at the player perspective, I feel that it tends to lean toward, “If I could get this inconvenience out of the way now, it’ll be okay.” We tend to focus on the now.
But looking at it from a developer’s perspective, if we make everything easy, it might be fine right now, but if you look at it from a long perspective, will it actually be good? It might destroy the game balance. We also have to consider that some want to play on a more casual level, and there are some who are more hardcore. If we listen to every feedback and accept them all, it might break the game. Sometimes there is content that we are unfortunately unable to accommodate. My job as a director of this game is to determine what sort of situation this is.
Are any crossovers between Final Fantasy XIV and Final Fantasy XVI planned? – Anastasia Kudinov, Eurogamer Germany
Yoshi-P: So yes, the producer of FFXVI happens to have the same name that I do. I have gotten the chance to discuss this with Yoshida. I think we are nearing the conclusion of our discussions, but we are unable to divulge on it right now. I’m hoping that we can reveal some kind of information within this calendar year.
As the game continues to expand, how are you ensuring it’s approachable for new players, considering the time investment required? – Ed Nightingale, Eurogamer
Yoshi-P: I think that the way we approach it is that we make sure we adjust how the item levels come into effect, making sure that we balance out the content. We also have different support elements like Duty Support.
Patch 5.3, released on August 11, 2020, overhauled a lot of the main scenario quests and duties from A Realm Reborn. Can you talk about what it was like revisiting that content and deciding what to keep, what to remove, and what to revise? – Quentin Humphrey, Operation Rainfall
Yoshi-P: There isn’t anything that I feel that I wanted to actually keep after all (that had been removed). In terms of the process where we were shaving down the content, we would kind of abridge it. There were multiple ways to how we approached the truncating. We researched at what point in the content players had the tendency to drop out. There are certain quests that we as the development team feel like, “We have done way too much of this; we need to reel it back.” We looked at the different NPCs, what quests they’re given, the lines of dialogue, does it pertain to the main part of the lore; based on this information, we decide that this guy can go away. That was the hardest part, though.
Endwalker’s story is full of emotional topics that are often difficult to broach for many writers and players, such as existentialism and loss – can you talk about any inspirations and difficulties in taking these on? – Victoria Rose, MMORPG.com
Yoshi-P: To tell you the truth, whenever we make an expansion, not just for Endwalker, we apply the same kind of philosophy with anything we make. For example, in Shadowbringers, we have those who wanted to bring the sundered worlds back together. The Ancients wanted to bring it back to how it used to be, and the Warrior of Light and his associates are living in the now. They’re used to the worlds that they’re living in. They each have their own beliefs that they’re trying to pursue. I don’t think that there’s a correct right or wrong.
With Endwalker, all of that kind of culminates in the conclusion of the Hydaelyn / Zodiark saga. At least the first conclusion to that arc. We’ve been following that path with players working through the story. It is a difficult theme, but I think that you’ll be able to tell that we contemplated it and brought it to a conclusion that we’re satisfied with, so to speak. If this was just in Endwalker of trying to depict all that happened, it would’ve probably been an impossible feat to bring all that to the table.
We agree that it’s definitely a difficult topic to approach. I do want to reiterate that it was difficult for sure, but I hope that you get the opportunity to interview [scenario writer] Natsuko Ishikawa to get her perspective.
Would you consider implementing cross-regional Data Center visiting, or even a cross-regional Data Center Duty Finder queue system? – Michael Damiani, Easy Allies
Yoshi-P: I do want to mention that the technical aspects of being able to travel between North America, Europe, Japan, and Oceania data centers are built. That said, we need to observe that the culture between the different regions differs significantly. Is it okay to suddenly open the floodgates and have everybody mingle? I’m afraid that we don’t have the confidence to determine that. We would still like to continue observing how data center travel is utilized.
If the question is whether we are considering it or not, yes, we are considering it. But I’ve been having many a discussion with our server engineers. “Could we do it this way? Could we do it that way?”
We’ve been doing these meetings on multiple occasions. We had one recently, even.
Whenever we have these discussions, we always end up saying this: “Ughhhh, we’re going to have to talk about this at the next meeting.” There are many challenges that we have to overcome from a technical perspective. We don’t want to give up on the idea. I think that’s what makes my team very talented. We’re trying to see how we could possibly work this out.
After Variant and Criterion Dungeons, do you plan on working on more 4-player endgame content like this? What was the feedback so far and does it mean we won’t have new 72 players content in the future (big fan of Bozja here)? – Cassim Ketfi, Frandroid.com
Yoshi-P: Right now, the system for Variant and Criterion Dungeons is very well structured. We would like to continue releasing more content in this format. We will continue to listen to more feedback. You can expect that we will continue to implement more content like the Variant and Criterion Dungeons.
Of course, we continue to discuss and ideate on different content that we’ve never done before as well, like battle content. In terms of large-scale combat situations, we still want to do things in that vein as well. We will continue to come up with new challenges in that aspect. Please stay tuned for some aspects that are under Variant and Criterion Dungeons in tomorrow’s Letter from the Producer.
Ideally, I’d love to buy Final Fantasy I and put it in an arcade cabinet in my house. Being able to play the first few Final Fantasy games in Final Fantasy XIV would be amazing, even if it was in the cash shop only. Can we ever expect something like this? – Omer Altay, MMOs.com
Yoshi-P: We’ve been trying at this idea since about a year and a half ago. With like the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series coming out, we also thought that it would be cool to play at the Gold Saucer or at your estate. We have tested this. But we realized that the Pixel Remasters are running on middleware. Because it’s running on middleware, if you want to implement that on FFXIV, you would have to develop a system to play the middleware. Our FFXIV team, I love them; they’re crazy. But I don’t think they’re that crazy. If I could only have somebody who is like a super-level programmer. Like two more of them. Then we might be able to see some kind of path form.
For any Warriors of Light who are reading this article and are super engineers, if you are confident to build such a system, we would love to receive your job application. Half-joking, half-serious. FFXIV is like a theme park of Final Fantasy, so we are looking to incorporate those sorts of elements. I need to point out that the question does mention “even if it was only in the cash shop.” I don’t want people coming at me!
We could possibly consider FFI-III might be free, but we would have to think about FFIV-VI.
Have you thought about expanding FFXIV into other mediums, like anime or a TV series? Would you like to see that personally? – Hayes Madsen, Inverse
If I’m allowed to be the overall production and overall supervisor, then I would love to have a Final Fantasy XIV TV series. That said, right now my title is Producer/Director of FFXIV. I’m also the head of Creative Business Unit III. I’m also a board member. I don’t think I can squeeze in being a director of a TV series.
I won’t be able to do it personally, but we are open to offers that we may receive. If there is a passionate party that wants to bring FFXIV to another medium, like an anime, or a TV series that the Warrior of Light can take part in, we’ve never rejected the idea. We actually were fortunate to have people approach us with projects like that, but unfortunately, with the pandemic hitting, other projects may have been affected by the pandemic. Nothing has really followed through to actual concrete discussions. But in any case, if the FFXIV team becomes committed to a project like that, we want to make sure that we aren’t destroying the image that players have of FFXIV. We want to have a very good quality when we deliver it. We don’t have any plans to do so, but I will make sure that the quality is definitely high.
RPGFan would like to thank Naoki Yoshida, Aimi Tokutake, and all members of Square Enix that allowed us to participate in this press conference. Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail is planned for release on Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4 & 5, and Xbox Series X|S next summer. Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Fan Festival continues today, so check out the official website for the full schedule of events that will be streamed.