Sunday 26th March 2017,
Project Crystallis

Extensive GameWatch Interview – Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

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Here is a VERY LONG interview on Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, so just beware of A LOT of text. You have been warned. Enjoy.

Part 1:

On PS3, PS4 and Xbox One.

The trailer was deep and showed the beginning of new story, the PS4 version announcement at the end was a surprise, felt like we were tricked(laugh)
Y: we didn’t trick (laugh) At E3 we’ll have them announce the PS4 version. At the same time our message to PS3 FFXIV ARR owners and those who buy PS4 console can transfer their save data, we talked with SCE so that the players can start playing from the PS3 version.

Looks like there is something for the PS3 version
Y: Yes, you can play the PS3 version of FFXIV ARR without any worry, once the PS4 releases, and those who buy the console will be able to transfer easily.

2013 Release, so that means it’s not a launch title for the PS4 right? 
Y: Yes. It will be bit off from launch (PS4 launch). But, it’s faster than you may think.

So first half of 2014? 
Y: Right now we are in the final stages of the PS3 version and PC version, so please wait till next time for release information.

Is it alright to think that the PS4 version is the higher quality version of the PS3 with the same UI? 
Y: Yes, but it also depends on how much we can do, if there is memory space we are thinking about adding the mouse & keyboard mode into the PS4 version.

Does it make a difference that the memory is 8GB?
Y: Of course (laugh).

What are you aiming for graphics?
Y: If you see the PC’s highest quality we should be able to do this normally.

For PC version you talked about higher settings than highest quality available, so you’re saying the PS4 version can achieve the current highest settings?
Y: Yes. After the official launch of the PS3 version and PC version, we’ll set up a team specifically for it and work hard to aim for high quality.

It’s of course going to support 1080p right?
Y: I hope so.

That’s something to look forward to. Personally I asked you several times in the past about possibility of future generation consoles such as PS4 and you mentioned “First is the PS3” so I was thinking even if it did exist it was going to be much later. So when I officially asked you those questions you already had talks about the PS4 version?
Y: I believe I answered this many times but we have the PC version, so to transfer it isn’t that hard. This time with the PS3 version we were able to challenge at PS3’s hardware limits so after this, the community playing PC game will increase and they will wish for higher quality. If that’s the case we want as much players around the world to play so we would like to prepare it for them.

In that case, bit curious about XBox One version
Y: It’s up to if we can get the community going.

Scholar reveal.

Talking about the community, they were talking about Scholar, what’s the story behind that one? 
Y: Bit embarrassing, but we were planning to release the package illustration along with the release date announcement but the illustration got leaked a lot earlier than planned…… And the talk went on about the unannounced character that was in the illustration. Specially NA side were talking “Hey that’s Scholar right?” so we just said “It’s alright, no point in hiding” so during the 5/30’s producer letter live we announced that it was indeed Scholar and it will be released at launch. But, we’ll announce what type of Job Scholar is and the details of Scholars attack along with a video during E3.

Will Scholar hold some spot during E3?
Y: No, not like that, it’s just something we haven’t released yet.

Are there any other new jobs aside from Scholar?
Y: Just think of the jobs in the package illustration are all the jobs at launch timing.

About E3.

What are you planning to do during the E3’s live broadcast?
Y: FFXIV ARR is a global title but since we’re in Japan the hours ends up being for Japan. This time we’re going to NA so we would like to make the broadcast aimed for many NA players. During the E3 event we have a live broadcast program called SQUARE ENIX PRESENTS which will go on for 3 days straight. Unlike the SE’s image up until now, it will look more relaxed. We would appreciate if everyone can see SE is slowly changing.

Can you play the phase 3 at E3 booth? 
Y: yes you can. For MMORPG you really can’t tell what’s fun about the game with just 10-15 minutes play so we are thinking of an event, or different type of play to participate.

Staff explaining and have them play for 20-30minutes fully?
Y: We’ll have them fight Ifrit. We have adjusted specifically for this event. If everyone can win then we’ll give them some goodies, that’s the event we’re thinking.

That seems like it’s going to get excited. So is this going to happen inside the SE booth? 
Y: Yes, we’ll have a section for this.

Are you going to put this out on SCEA’s booth? 
Y: No. It looks like they are going full out with the PS4, so we’ll have a trailer running at SCEA’s booth and the live demo will be at our companies booth.

Lets get the PS4 version out (laugh) 
Y: Priority is to first release the PS3 version (laugh)

PS3 version details.

Regarding PS3 version, after looking at the 2nd walkthrough trailer, it looked like it’s turning up well.
Y: Alright, let me explain while running the PS3 version demo, this isn’t for debut but the actual PS3 is being used to run this.

(PS3’s Character Creation Demo Started)

Graphic option is pretty much fixed?
Y: Yes it’s fixed.

How much FPS were you able to get?
Y: We been saying max 30 so it’s 30.

Will the FPS drop where lots of players are?
Y: Yes it will drop somewhat, but if you ask if it will go down, then some.

The part that impressed me most about the PS3 version walkthrough trailer was how much details were put in for further distance. Really showed the memory process was worked into really hard.
Y: Yes, I also believe for the PS3 version it’s pushing over the hardwares limit.

The background in distance doesn’t fade off. What kind of technique did you use to make this possible?
Y: Although we dropped the texture resolution a little we carefully addressed it, and the big part is quickly swapping the low, middle, high texture resolution at really quick speed within the memory. In character creation, you are now able to change the background time from day and night, as well as choose colors.

There are more variations from hair and every other selections?
Y: It has increased.

For the PS3 version graphics, is this fixed (final) ? 
Y: Pretty much fixed. I’ll talk about it since it was brought up during today’s live broadcast, in patch 2.1 we’re are going to release barber, also with this patch 2.1 the number of hair styles will increase a lot. So at launch just think of it as this much for now, and later on you can choose from more styles so it’s okay to freely choose one at first. It’s pretty hard on the system but even on the PS3 version we have applied differed lighting, and pushed the modifications to the lighting or shadow put on the face. There are more highlights and face paints as well, you can also reverse the facepaint now (reworded)

You can make detailed changes. Is this outputting in 720p? 
Y: It’s 720p.

Looks beautiful. even with 720p, you can clearly read the text, and other than some icons being somewhat different from the PC version everything else looks the same 
Y: Yes. If you’re just simply glancing at it, I think you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between PC version and PS3 version.

Does it address 576p or 480p also?
Y: That’s SCE’s regulation

I see, I was surprised when I was looking at the spec sheet and noticed FFXIV also works with SD resolution.
Y: There are SD TV in Europe so yes.

Talking extreme, you should be able to play FFXIV with analog TV also right?
Y: We have covered the minimum line.

How about the opposite 4K? 
Y: Once it spreads, we’ll think about it

PV version is said to be optimized for full HD (1,920 x 1,080), so does that mean it won’t be optimized for the 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160)?
Y: Yes. But if we wanted to output more resolution we can. We may do a demo on it in the future.

Does remote play on PS Vita work for the PS3 version?
Y: At this time we are not thinking about doing this.

Can you download the PS3 version client through Play Station Store?
Y: Yes, phase 3 will be that way.

What is the download size?
Y: Actual product and phase 3 is little bit different, but I think the size will be over 5GB. I apologize but for this one we will need players to download this time.

The PS3 version client download isn’t split but done at once?
Y: It’s done at once. You download the launcher then download so even if it gets cut off in the middle, you will be able to resume.

(PS3 version field demo test started)

Wow! PS3 version is nice, there is no problem at all!
Y: If there was any problems I wouldn’t be showing it. You know it, don’t fool around (laugh) Even if you sprint around frame rate won’t drop much at all. I think it’s pretty miraculous. Really want to praise the development team for this one.

At last years point you told us that you couldn’t show us yet because when the UI was applied it dropped the performance.
Y: We have really worked into the UI’s response. Graphics looks beautiful but this also switches from low, middle and high.

I see, looks natural. For bad games when you move even a little it shows up on the background or flashes.
Y: Some parts of field, stuff that is far away or stuff that are automatically created such as the grass will disappear. We are making final adjustments on this aiming for the final product version. Other than that the rendering priority for characters and NPC will be tested during the beta, we would like to receive feedbacks and make final adjustments aiming for the final product.

Is the loading time similar to the PC?
Y: If you compare that to the PC version, the hardware’s performance is fundamentally different, and the speed of HDD process will vary.

WIll it create some delay? 
Y: Yes. Well that’s same for FFXI, it takes some time to load the characters.

So, for example if you switch the PS3’s HDD to SSD would the PS3 version’s speed increase?
Y: It will (laugh) But, that’s not supported by SCE, and we can’t use that as optimal, but if you’re going to be peculiar with the speed, then it will be your own responsibility but if you change it will be much faster.

It will change that much?
Y: Yes. he seek error is pretty big, HDD is a physical disk so when it looks for the data it seeks for it and if seek error occurs it starts over from beginning again. For that reason, if the physical seek speed is slow, it delays in calculation. Other than that, compared to FFXI we have sprint so characters movement is faster, it tries to read the NPC but if you pass through them it ends up in a situation where it doesn’t need to load any more, then it tries to read the characters next, when it does that the input/output collides and reaches the capacity. We tried our best for the processing, and we’ll continue making optimization for the final release but this HDD processing speed is very important.

Is the PS3 versions performance optimization finished? 
Y: Yes. But like I said, for the reading data I believe we can do some more. Other than that is increasing the distance for bush, and increasing quality of water.

Regarding macro which can be placed inside the cross hot bar, is it now possible to save the macros on server side?
Y: We want to get this going by official start, but it might be through a patch.

So not far off, we should be able to use same macro’s between PC and PS3 version?
Y: Yes, we’ll do our best.

Regarding PS3 versions gamepad controls , it’s hard to control the direction key while moving the analog stick while holding the L2 button, how do you want us to play?
Y: It’s possible to control while auto running, also if it’s during battle and where you don’t need to move, you can use without any difficulty, so it’s something not to be used at all times but something that needs to be used at specific moments should be set on the direction key side.

So you’re saying the direction key side should be used as a sub?
Y: Yes. For those that will be used the most should be placed on the right side buttons, other than that, we have placed a toggle feature after receiving feedbacks. Up until beta phase 2 you have to hold down the L2/R2 key to use them, but starting phase 3 we have prepared this toggle mode where by pressing it once it will keep the hotbar in use state, pressing again will release.

That is useful. What does mix mean?
Y: Mix is a mode where it toggles on/off depending on how long you’re holding the button. If you set it on toggle mode, it works after pressing once and one more time to cancel. We received feedbacks saying it’s hard on their fingers to hold constantly so that’s why we addressed it.

I see. The config around this area is much more detailed now.
Y: Probably we may be number one in the world with the amount of detailed options that are available.

Beta phase 3.

At the point of phase 2 the options were worlds most detailed, so in phase 3 it got even more detailed.
Y: Yes, Minagawa (FFXIV ARR Lead UI Artist) and the UI team really put in all their effort into this. We don’t know any other MMO with this much amount of options in a MMO, and it supports both gamepad mode and mouse/keyboard so we want to take in the feedbacks and keep this momentum going till the end.

Every time the readers say they like how we keep on pushing on the questions, but for FFXIV ARR the features gets changed a lot so there isn’t much parts we can push on. We can’t do our business (laugh).
Y: People in the media check out many games so for you to be able to say that makes us happy.

Does this FFXIV’s engine have a name?
Y: There isn’t any, I will think of a name (laugh).

Next, regarding phase 3, the start timing was announced for June 14th, but you were actually planning for early June, was there a delay?
Y: We were targeting the 7th.

Thought so. It seemed that way, was thinking when E3 started we can already play phase 3 and be able to login at the booth.
Y: But think of it this way, we’re telling all the Media to please wait until E3 for new information and then starting the beta doesn’t seem right, also we are making final adjustments until the end.

So you haven’t given up on the 7th for the start date?
Y: No, it’s confirmed for the 14th. If we don’t decide on the date it puts more pressure on the dev team. They won’t know where the goal is, and to see how much they need to keep up, they also have a limit to their mental power.

14th in Japan would mean last day of E3.
Y: Yes, therefore I’ll be working remotely from there.

That’s pretty hard. Both PC and PS3 versions will start at same time right?
Y: Yes. That is the the plan unless something major occurs.

When will the client download start?
Y: Would like to start few days earlier. Should be able to download at the time E3 is going on.

Curious about the contents of phase 3, you wrote in the producer letter as well but there is too many things that can be played in phase 3 and it’s hard to talk about it, but can you let us know which parts you would like the players to concentrate on?
Y: The story. All the story is in there up till level 20.

So finally we’re getting the main quest for FFXIV ARR.
Y: We showed you the E3 trailer earlier but scenario up till where you defeat Ifrit is in there, so please start the beginning from the 3 nation and adventure off to other areas and once all come together you’ll start fighting against large enemies which are important to the world. It’s weird we have all this in place in a beta test (laugh).

Yes, knowing that I was surprised you were putting in the story in beta. What’s the reason in putting the main story in the beta test?
Y: Hmmm, this one is hard to explain but since the story this time is pretty straight forward (FF like) there is crystals, warriors of light, and viewing the past, these theme and keywords are in there. We wanted players to check out these classic FF parts.

I see. while watching the walkthrough trailer, toward the end there was an area that looked like a beach resort and the BGM was really up tempo, was thinking it was going to be more dark world but there were peaceful world so my viewpoint changed. You put in odd parts ahead of time for a reason?
Y: Yes, actually that location, far off from there stands a empire base, so it’s a small oasis (laugh) This time we put lots of features so for these ones we want players to try out and get them interested in continue on.

For the beta test, for normal MMO’s people stop logging in after a day or two since their data gets wiped, and that’s why they add more accounts to stress test, but with XIV this time we had lots of previous XIV players looking forward to playing we wanted to release the opening. But we really put in too much so I masked some of them (laugh)

I see. Since you all are confident with the story, you wanted players to try it out?
Y: Yes. If there isn’t enough story, testing won’t continue. Specially this time we have the PS3 players, so i believe if they say something like “tried it out but didn’t get it” it’s not good. I think PS3 customers will think of this as a demo version rather than a test to play. If there wasn’t the previous XIV I would’ve probably masked it, but I don’t want to make it where people say “I tried it but was only battle” or “I didn’t understand” so we made it where you can play all.

That’s pretty unique, you added the story in there which normally doesn’t happen since PS3 version players will think of this as trial version.
Y: That’s right. Even if I say “This is not trial version it’s beta test” the tester will still comment saying “This being trial version there wasn’t much” I can’t go around telling everyone that’s not the case. Specially the power of the community through SNS is really strong so we’re worried about that one.

In the E3 trailer, lots of major voice actors were talking. When voice is added it really changes the feeling of the game, voice isn’t being added in phase 3 right? 
Y: It’s not going to have it. During testing there are issues such as rights.

Part 2:

In the E3 trailer, lots of major voice actors were talking. When voice is added it really changes the feeling of the game, voice isn’t being added in phase 3 right? 
Y: It’s not going to have it. During testing there are issues such as rights.

It’s a bit sad hearing all those voice actors in the E3 trailer and not having them in phase 3.
Y: Yes. For that part I am going to explain ahead of time.

In the E3 trailer there was a scene fighting Garuda, can you fight in phase 3?
Y: You cannot. Garuda is far up in the scenario.

In phase 3, you can enjoy up to Ifrit battle?
Y: Yes you will be able to fight against Ifrit from the story

For Ifrit, you can get up to the primal battle?
Y: For previous XIV players they would know this, but the primal that comes up in scenario and the end content version is different. The one known as primal battle is the 2nd one, the scene you saw earlier are scenes which will come inside a story. You will be able to fight the Ifrit that comes up in the story in phase 3.

I see. So you won’t be able to fight primals as an end content yet then
Y: Yes. It’s very difficult content. But it’s alright to think of the primal battle as a hard mode of the scenario battle, so just imagine what the battle would be like at level 50.

Also, starting this phase 3 NDA is going to be lifted, correct? 
Y: Yes, however we are continuing to restricting release of videos still.

When will it be possible to release videos?
Y: We would like to make an announcement at the timing of launch regarding videos

In Japan there isn’t much case where video distribution is allowed, but for FFXIV ARR you’re going to allow it correct?

Y: Yes. Normally the videos recorded by the players are not allowed to be released. That is due to copyright reasons. So this time we asked the voice actors and individual offices for approval, so we would like to officially support the player movies. It’s really fun to watch play video’s and also it motivates those who creates the videos, I believe we’re in that type of era now.

How about live broadcast? There are people who broadcast gameplay videos through Twitch and Ustream, this is specially increasing in the NA region , what do you think about these?
Y: I don’t think there is any problem.

How about running a commentary with live broadcast?
Y: I don’t think there is any problem But we’ll have some regulations. For example stuff like please don’t use other companies music. There is copyright issues so if they are going to just go with FFXIV materials it’s fine so as long as they can follow that rule once it’s announced it should be fine.

I believe lots of comments were made after phase 1 and 2. Please tell us about the feedbacks that were applied in phase 3, and those that were not applied.
Y: First, for the feedbacks we worked on, of course we worked on map transparency but also made it possible to read the icon information on the maps with the PS3 version through gamepad, if I keep on giving examples there is no end to it.

These features are same with both PS3 and PC version?
Y: It will pretty much be same.

Are there any parts that’s different? Like features that can’t be used on the PS3 version?
Y: No there isn’t any. Probably the PS3 version will have the main command which is specific for PS3. Also through feedbacks we created the armoury chest. It’s what we have been calling the Armoury Board until now.

To explain what this is, it’s a box specifically for gears. For each item type you will be able to put in 25 items so please put in all the gears in here, you can always carry them around, so you can create gear sets from here and enjoy armoury or changing gear.

So you made this separate from the inventory?
Y: Yes. It’s box just for gears. It’s 25 x number of slots so you will be able to hold extraordinary amount of items and walk around.

Sounds like Doraemon’s pocket (Japanese old anime/manga character, robot from the future that bring out many tools from his pocket on his belly…) If you can hold as much gears if you obtain a gear it goes into the inventory first, then you have to move it to the chest?
Y: No. The gear you obtain will all go into the chest. If you don’t want them there you can get it out. Basically they will all go in the armoury chest. Pressing the circle button on the item icon shows commands such as equip, materialize (spirit bond), dye.

So you put in the gear in here, and register the gear set and you can switch with just one key.
Y: Yes. If you set the current gear you have equipped that will be registered as a gear set. After that as long as that registered gear items are inside the armoury chest you can instantly switch gear. So you can change a part of it then re-register that you can make another set. We also made it possible to register the gear set in the hot bar.

What kind of informations are displayed on the new map screen?
Y: Basics, information such as quest and F.AT.E. details can be displayed. Other than that,stronghold (base), as for the information on these locations, I’m the type where I don’t want to show information on locations you haven’t gone to so those information won’t be released. Other than that, shop and aether location icons will come up. I think was the the player wants to know most are stuff like “this quest mark, which NPC’s quest is it?” or “what level is this F.A.T.E.?” I think it’s more of those so we prioritized those.

There is a time displayed by F.A.T.E. is this the remaining time?
Y: It’s the amount of time remaining till the F.A.T.E. is failed. This was also something that was applied from the feedbacks. People went to the F.A.T.E. thinking it started but when they got there it ended and couldn’t clear and was stress for them, so now that we have the remaining time displayed you can use that to decide to participate or not.

There were times where I headed to F.A.T.E. and the NPC was already heading back (laugh)
Y: I really think that’s part of playing an MMO but with current generation players they really don’t want to waste time. If they felt stress they wouldn’t want to play, so we tried as much so that doesn’t happen. By displaying the time, it will create situations like “Hey this just started so lets go!” or like if 3 of them is occurring at the same time choosing the one that is the most optimal and having the most remaining time. I think everyone will think that so I think this will have some type of merit for players to gather.

Are there parts where you received lots of comments but you haven’t changed?
Y: Elemental Weakness. To the question asking “Why was the monsters elemental weakness taken away” we clearly answered that that is our policy and we’re not going to do it. For the players they want it and I understand. If you look at your own character, use fire on this mob, and use thunder on this mob. but when you’re looking from content or MMORPG if you do that, for example when you go to ifrit, that guys looks like he’s fire based so use ice! but that would mean it could up in a situation where you may not want Black Mage who’s strong in Fire spells.

When that happens, and we use content finder to match, you want DPS and get BLM in the party you’re going to start talking about kicking that person out, so in order to get rid of advantage/disadvantage, to make sure there won’t be a situation we don’t want this job for this content, we posted a long explanation on the forums explaining this. But there are people still commenting and wanting the elemental weakness. For this one we have explained that it’s our policy to not do this.

So the policy is completely different from FFXI where you need to go after the elemental weakness.
Y: Yes. We build the game wanting players to use the contents finder to easily form parties, so breaking that will make it pointless.

From phase 3 we can use Level Sync for F.A.T.E. correct?
Y: Yes. With this demo character which is at level 35, this F.A.T.E. here is optimal for level 10 so if you choose this F.A.T.E. and level sync, your level will be synced to that F.A.T.E.s level. Once you leave the F.A.T.E. it will automatically be released. Also, there was a circle below the enemy, that one is the hit detection for weapon skill. Monsters will also use weapon skills so if you stand in middle of that you will get hit hard so please dodge it.

This reddish circle? 
Y: Yes. If you don’t move away you’ll get hit.

In previous FFXIV the effect looked like it was collecting something, but it’s a replacement for that?
Y: Yes. if we don’t display the range they can’t dodge it so basically all of it is like this. If it’s those that uses breath forward you’ll know how to dodge.

Will the circle be displayed few seconds before it going off?
Y: More like, if you target the mob, above the HP you’ll see the cast bar for that mob, if this fills up it will use the move. So you can look at the picture and dodge, or look at the bar, also you can reposition the UI through HUD layout mode freely, so please set it up to where it’s best for you.

It’s nice that you can also change the HUD layout on the PS3 version. There isn’t any game on the PS3 that can do this much.
Y: Yes, I have told the dev team that they can be proud of that.

Can you please tell us about the new dungeons we’re entering in phase 3? Can we go in the dungeon now?
Y: It’s not possible now. We need 4 people to go in.

I see, it’s 4 players instance dungeon, so we can’t enter solo?
Y: Until some time after launch you won’t be able to go in solo. But I believe we’ll release that at one point.

What are the target levels for the new dungeons?
Y: This time we will have 15, 16, 17, 23, 29, 32. Level cap is at 35 so it’s 7 dungeons.

Dungeons in La Noscea and Thanalan? 
Y: That and there is also Black Shroud as well. We made adjustments to Tamtara and Totorak from feedbacks received in phase 1 and 2. I’m planning to release all the information which shows what will be in phase 3 and phase 4.

Is something going to change in phase 4 also?
Y: Of course. Like making detailed adjustments, or change the game balance, or display priority also, after we have many of the PS3 players play we want to make adjustments to this like if they want the NPC to be displayed as a priority.

What kind of adjustments were made to the dungeons that were released up till phase 2
Y: For the parts which were said it was too long, we cut them out, also we made adjustments to the parts people were bored. ALso enemies strength and unexpected route, stuff like that.

Regarding the volume of dungeon, for one dungeon how much time will it take? 
Y: We have the dungeons for leveling so even longest we are making it end in about 30-40 minutes. There were parts that were longer than expected and also parts that were much shorter, so we adjusted those.

There isn’t any limitation in amount of players that can go in?
Y: Yes. Instance server can be pushed to it’s limit. But as a condition to use content finder you will first need to clear the quest to find that dungeon. So you will need to go on an adventure to register them in the finder, after register you can automatically warp from any part of the world.

Can you explain some more regarding content finder?
Y: With content finder you can check the dungeon or party specific contents, next you click on participate and it will automatically match/form a party and participate in those dungeon/contents.

For content finder, they will basically form a party with tank, healer, dps, these 3 roles?
Y: Yes. It’s based on roles, so for example say a person who set their role as a tank will be assigned a tanks role, internally there are also ranged DPS, basically archer and close range DPS, such as Dragoon, these are grouped under DPS. Internally it’s looking into it more detailed so it will try and match without having situations like having 2 MNKs, but if it’s where no one else can be found it will automatically match, that is how the algorithm is made.

In beta phase 3, battle system will go through some changes, what direction did it take for the changes? 
Y: Up until now everything was taken control by GCD but abilities will now move on it’s own (timer) Weapon skill will have GCD but you can use abilities now in between so you’re going to be busy.

So now it’s possible to fight while constantly using some type of action? 
Y: In the beginning it’s not that much, but as you learn more skills, it will be very important to decide the positioning and what type of combos to use. For example if you feel you’re in danger, you can use abilities such as “Fight or fly” (probably different naming in English) to increase DPS defeat the mob at once before the weapon skill.

What do you mean by using in between weapon skill? 
Y: While the timer (GCD) is still running, you use the ability in between, it’s basically to use up the available time wisely. For example, this character is Gladiator and is Tank, so it doesn’t have much DPS. The classes role is to hold the enemy. Now if this was a Monk, you will run around to the side or behind the enemy and buff yourself while increasing evasion to increase haste effect, so you’ll need fight while continuing to keep the attacks going. If you miss, you’ll have to start over again so you’ll need to think over. The DPS will change when looking over duration.

If that’s so, seems like it’s going to be much busier 
Y: At the beginning new adventurers are limited with amount of available skills, this will increase as you level. We checked into how much battles you need to go through in order to level up to the next level, from there you’ll learn new skill but it’s not something you learn and use in that order. You’ll learn skills that may in go between the skills you have already learned. You’ll also learn in time that the damage will increase from specific position. So say first move needs to be used from behind the enemy and 2nd being from the side, you’ll first go around the mob, run to the side and use 2nd then watch the mob to stop to use weapon skill to dodge and put in the 3rd combo, or instead of 3rd combo you may want to use the first skill again to increase the buff… or if you take in too much hate, use feather step in between to increase evasion and right after dodging to put in a counter ability, so you’ll have many different options.

So not only does it get busier, it will require lots of strategy. If you can perform that much looks like the battle can be enjoyed not only with a party but with solo also.
Y: Yes, previously we have mentioned this but for solo we want players to play through quests and while doing so deciding your character’s class, then learning the basics for that class from there. Next you can get into dungeons and or playthrough guildhest to learn party play. Through parties you’ll learn about individuals roles on how tanks can take hate for you while you do your things. You’ll learn them step by step and that’s completely fine.

The battle system will change again but will it be something beginners can enjoy without getting confused? 
Y: Yes, for beginning it shouldn’t be a problem. We carefully made adjustments there. That is the reason why we received feedbacks. For core gamers they felt it was bit lacking, where beginning was dull, just spamming same skills in same order. So we made adjustments by rearranging the order you obtain the skill, and changed the usage requirement. But if you play from level 1, you only have 1 skill at beginning, so it isn’t a problem, once that increases and becomes 2 you’ll learn to use it 1 > 2, then once you learn the 3rd skill you’ll find out instead of 1>2>3 order the 3 comes in between becoming 1>3>2.

How are the caster jobs progressing? 
Y: It may be hard to tell by looking at the job action movie we released earlier but for Conjurer and Black mage there are elements called Astral Fire and Astral Blizzard, and if you continue using Blizzard type spells your element becomes Blizard based, and if you use Fire based you’ll become more Fire based. You’ll be able to tell right away by the fireballs circling around your character. With that state your fire damage from any damage will increase, however your MP usage will also increase a lot. Also there is something called Stance Change and there is Astral Fire level 1, level 2, level 3, for example if you cast 2 fire type spells you’ll have Lv2 Astral Fire element on your, while in that mode if you use stance change it switches to blizzard level 2 so you can add on blizzard spells with a cost of much faster MP regen. So you can look at the remaining MP and cast Fire till your MP is near depleted and then switching to blizzard, by doing that the MP will recover at really fast speed. You can cast blizzard to keep the continue damaging the mob and once the MP is regained to switch to Fire, then put in Thunder for DoT. For those that played 1.x FFXIV may feel that it has changed.

You’ll take in the risk on your own, but will make the spells stand out, it’s kind of like FFXI’s Scholar, so it looks interesting where you are able to come up with a strategy instead of just casting fire.
Y: But if you don’t understand it, you might end up not being able to deal much damage, or run out of MP so to make sure that doesn’t happen, through class quests we’re explaining the roles and let them know that there are two elements. At first you can only use Blizzard so you don’t run out of MP, the battle team made careful adjustments. If you learn fire and just spam fire, you’ll run out of MP so you use the stance change to switch between the two. We made sure there is a reason behind why you learn those actions in that order.

In Phase 3 being able to play class/job is one major point. 
Y: Yes, first would like players to get used to class, then aim for higher jobs

There were comments saying that depending on the job the quest difficulty is different, were any adjustments made?
Y: We made as much adjustments possible. There was also comments saying Conjurers had hard time obtaining contribution points to get the reward during F.A.T.E. so we made adjustments there as well. For F.A.T.E. you’ll be doing it with many people so even if we increased the HP of the mob it will still get killed instantly, so we made some tweaks. For example we changed Conjurers Aero to instant spell. By doing this you’ll get the minimum amount of contribution, also by healing you’ll also get contribution so it should be easier for healers to get contribution points.

Many of the players may of felt that everything was being pushed back into phase 3, thinking “This much stuff really going to be in phase 3?” but we have been developing on phase 3 while phase 1 and 2 was running so it’s really in there.

Battle balance has been modified this time around but what do you think about balance between jobs? 
Y: Easiest one to compare is Monk and Dragoon, their roles are both close range DPS, but for Monk they have something called Style. There are actions that can only be used while you’re in that specific style and by using that action it could switch to another style to use the next action. It will be where you can go through different position/actions in order 1>3>4>7>8 for the first round but 2nd round going 1>3>5>6 and going back to 1. By doing that correctly the DPS and attack speed will increase. So in the beginning it will be slow, but if you can keep it going it will be amazing. (Note: Just think of it as fighting game continuing combos).

Dragoon on the other hand is much more standard close range DPS, you stand in specific position to deal big damage with combo’s but if you do too much you’ll take hate easily. Also there are skills where you have to use from behind to deal the additional effect or jump where you need to be behind the mob and far away at same time. Or skills where you’re running in from behind and jump and stunning the mob with floor sweep then dealing combo from the side, then using abilities leading up to Dragon Dive. It’s standard close range DPS but made it where it looks cool for Dragoon, while Monk will require to think about how to keep the chain going, they are both same DPS but have different ways to be played. It’s up to the players style. Also this time Dragoon will be jumping a lot so some may enjoy that (laugh)

To bring in previous FF series, are there any jumps for Dragoon where they jump and not come down fora while? 
Y: Nothing like that (laugh) If you jump, and not come back there might be situations players will be wiped except for you and them telling you “What the hell are you doing?” Even in the old FF series after jumping and other party members take 9999 and died, you only got that dragoon left and end up saying “What the hell am I going to do with this?” With this much reality in graphics we haven’t done this (laugh)

How are the buddy skills, like the one for Chocobo?
Y: Once you can use Buddies, there will be a command for it, by putting this in the cross hotbar you’ll be able to use it. For example there are commands such as “Follow me” which simply follows you. “Return home” is just that and returns home. “Free Fight” command will let them know that you’ll fight so fight along freely. “Equipment change” we have a simple UI in there for testing so please use it.

Buddies, won’t attack the mob unless the player attacks? 
Y: In phase 3 it won’t. However at the timing of official service, it’s possible to do something like I’ll do the healing so go and fight! There are stances for attacker, defensive, healer so you can command through these stances. Also for growth feature you can learn actions through points. There are actions for these stances, so by using these points you can learn them. You can make Chocobo learn cure from healer stance and get it up to where it learns Cure-ra, it’s up to the players to decide. However if you take cure-ra you won’t have enough points to put into attacker/defensive stance.

So there is a limit on the amount of points?
Y: There is. You won’t be able to obtain all of them. There is no fun in it if you can obtain all of it. However you will be able to switch through any stance.

Is there a status screen specific for Chocobo? 
Y: There is. But, we don’t have the growth feature in phase 3 so we haven’t released it. If we put that in it’ll become same as the official service (laugh)

Can you have several buddies? 
Y: in future we’re planning to be able to hold several.

How about I’m mounted on a buddy while having another buddy following from behind?
Y: that’s not possible since we have it 1 on 1. By calling a buddy, your Minion will return as well, same thing. It’s always 1 on 1. If you’re able to call a pet along with that, you’ll have a row of pets following you (laugh) that will break the memory or go over the limit for character display

Alright then, how about pet (summon) and Chocobo (buddy) combination? 
Y: Summoner and Arcanist’s pets are OK.

Part 3:

It is said that in phase 3 you will be testing data import from previous XIV, is this for all the characters that was created in XIV? I believe there are few that made couple characters under one account 
Y: yes. There isn’t any restrictions in phase 3, you will be able to test as much. However at the timing of official launch, there is different subscription plans such as standard and entry, so if you have it on entry course, you only can use one character.

I think everyone logged out in different areas, but where will they start? 
Y: We made adjustments on this one. They will all start from a specific location. For this one it will involve story so we can’t talk about it yet.

What’s going to happen to the Linkshells previous FFXIV characters had?
Y: We will transfer over the Linkshells, this time the data centers going to split starting phase 3 with Japan and NA/EU. That test will also start, so previous Legacy Worlds will also be separated between Japan and NA/EU. So we’ll have wolrd transfer, if you would like to transfer we will need everyone to send in the transfer request. I apologize for the inconvenience this will cause but we’ll try our best to support. If the Linkshell leader decides to move the leader will not able to carry over the Linkshell, the remaining linkshell will be passed onto another player automatically. If the leader stays then it will remain the same.

Also for friend list, unlike previous XIV where it automatically added players to friend list, it will require approval. Say I wanted to add you as a friend, first it will send a message to you asking for approval and until you press “Okay” the friend list registration won’t be completed. Previous XIV wasn’t like that, I was able to add you to the friend list without any approval, so we made it where it sends the request first. So if you change your name, people may wonder “Who is this?” so please be careful.

Will it start with all your equipment, items, and money? 
Y: Yes. But for those items that didn’t fit in the inventory, we have a specific NPC that holds those items so please get it from them.

Looks like TESO is releasing around the same time as XIV ARR, that game is developed by the team that did Dark Age of Camelot, which you played hardcore. Looks like it’s a fateful match. 

Y: During last year’s E3 I met the ESO people and we talked about DAoC and they were like good luck with FFXIV so it’s really fateful match.

I see. However, doesn’t it look like this year it’s going to be different?
Y: Not sure. Both our direction in graphics is different so I’m sure we’re both not worry about each other.

FFXIV now has Japanese voice and looks more like a console game
Y: Yes. We’re the only MMO which can be played with a gamepad.

Soken (FFXIV ARR Sound Director) mentioned about sound track during the test broadcast.
Y: There are two, first one which as the previous XIV tracks called “Before Meteor: FINAL FANTASY XIV Original Soundtrack” which has total of 104 tracks in a Blu-ray disk. Instead of a regular CD but will be done as a Blu-ray label. Some may ask why wasn’t it done on a regular CD!? but it wont fit. For regular CD it ends up with something like 8 CD’s and the cost for 8 CD’s is pretty high, the actual CD will cost over 100 bucks, so we chose Blu-ray. However since it’s on Blu-ray we were able to be more particular with the audio, for mastering it took about 8 hours just to load the data. We have all the MP3’s in there so you’ll be able to listen in Blu-ray environment t same time for those without those environment they can transfer the MP3 files to mobile device and listen to them while on the go. The other one is the 6 track mini sound track that comes with the Collectors Edition, so we’re doing mastering for both of these at the same time.

How many tracks are there for FFXIV ARR?
Y: Sorry, I haven’t counted. I believe it’s more than the sound track (previous XIV) it’s abnormal (laugh)

Looks like there isn’t much MMORPG’s out there that takes in BGM as important, but with that FFXIV ARR is abnormal
Y: I’m telling them this part and this part is fine, but they keep on making.

Soken san is making the most?
Y: Soken is making the most.

The others are Mizuta san and Uematsu san? These 3?
Y: We’re using some of the previous FFXIV tracks also so there are some more.

For FFXIV project there was support from President Wada, but with his resignation what kind of effect will FFXIV take?
Y: Nothing has been affected.

Nothing at all?
Y: Yes. We just don’t have Mr. Housing appearing for a while (laugh)

For a while, so does that mean Mr. Housing is coming back?
Y: I believe he’ll come back.

How about President Matsuda? 
Y: Please look forward to it!

You announced release date of 8/27. The release timing was as expected but the announcement timing was unexpected. I was thinking phase 3 was first going to start after E3 then once server stability was confirmed with the PS3 version it was going to be announced. When I heard of the announcement I was thinking to myself “He’s taking some risk” but what’s the reason behind deciding on this release timing?
Y: This was decided with those risk in mind, for example for mass PR and printing, and ordering if it’s done after the E3’s SCEA’s press conference the PS4 will come first and people will say, you’re going to bring up PS3 now!? and feel negative about it, also if we don’t announce the release date we can’t make major/final decisions.

Also lots of distributors around the world is worried about when it’s going to be released, or if it’s the real deal, or when it’s going to be announced. If the release date isn’t decided no one will make orders, so it all depends on this release date announcement. But if we make this announcement right after the E3 we won’t know how much it will attract, so that was another big point. For me, I want players to first try it. I’ve been playing day/night and I feel confident that it’s good, so what’s remaining is to take in detailed feedbacks and make adjustments and it should be good.

Let me ask you this, since you haven’t tested the PS3 version not even once, you won’t know what’s going to happen during the beta test. What if some major problem occurred and ended up where you didn’t like it, what are you going to do?
Y: I’ll bow down and delay the release. This is same for any games, not only this game.

That is true, but for an online game, since there is that risk, I believe most of the time the release timing isn’t announced early. 
Y: But if you say that, you won’t be able to announce any game titles release. Even if it’s not FFXIV ARR if it’s a game that went through mastering, if there is a S rank bug after announcing the release date, what do you do? there are many situations like that. There are those that were able to be debugged and released on time, and those that were delayed. If you’re in gaming industry that is natural.

I see.
Y: I don’t think there are any gaming company out there that releases the release timing after all the bugs are taken out, that question is is not right (laugh). If we played 2000 hours continuously and if it hangs just once I’ll let it go. However if it hangs 4 times during a 2 hour play, that’s S rank problem and I’ll tell them to fix it. If that can’t be fixed we have to delay the release, this goes for any game, and not only FFXIV ARR.

That is true. I knew you were going to answer it that way (laugh). This goes for me also but there are players that would see that answer and feel relief. That’s because previous FFXIV failed big time on that one.
Y: Hmmm, so that means it’s really hard for them to really trust us.

I’m sure you know this but there are those that think like you in the gaming industry, on the other hand there are those that hold back on the quality but priorities on releases. You are Square-Enix’s corporate executive so as a company it wouldn’t be surprising if it was a decision as a company to avoid any further delays. But looking at you until now, I felt that you were not that type of person. 
Y: As a developer being told that is a blessing.

But, does that mean the bug fix for the PS3 version is pretty much nearing it’s end?
Y: Yes. If something were to happen, like if it goes over the display limit, there was a situation when this happened when we tested with our in-office testers and development teams, that is why we have these beta tests. But aside from that we really working on close details now so I think we’re alright.

So for example, if few hundred players all gathered in town, it won’t crash right?
Y: Yes, we already taken care of that type of bug. We want players to test in that situation to see the bugs case-by-case.

Collectors Edition was sold out instantly.
Y: I was really happy about that.

Do you have plans on additional production?
Y: No, it’s really hard to make this. If we wanted to reproduce it will take about 3 month so not really thinking about addition. Also we don’t want to the market to hold (onto extra copies) this was due to what happened in previous XIV, but we want to have people with grudge against say stuff like Look see it’s left over just like previous XIV, it’s not selling, that’s why we said it’s alright to just do it with reservation orders only. We really lowered the price as much as possible, and wanted as much players to try it. We were already decided on the price around year and half ago.

How many players are you expecting in phase 3?
Y: With one world with 5,000 simultaneous connection capacity with Legacy worlds together will be 35. We are planning to check the amount and have enough room to increase some more worlds.

Oh wow, can’t believe that much for beta.
Y: We have over 700,000 tester registrations so we need this much (laugh)

For phase 3 duration, are you going to do 2 month fully till August?
Y: It’s not that long

Then from June 14th till when?
Y: We’re thinking about a month

So if it goes as planned then it will end around mid July, so from there you’ll go back to redevelopment?
Y: No, once we received the feedbacks. From here on out it’s more towards the operation. Our operation team checks the QA report from previous day every morning, and checks players feedback, and also checks the morning meetings, if we are going to fix, they talk about when? If it needs to be done as a hot fix? They make those decisions and moving on forward, so we’ll probably go in the same way. We did the same during phase 1 and 2 also, so like this feedback, we’re going to address this one but it’s going to be pushed to phase 4, or at launch, or patch. It’s currently setup that way and heading towards the last part.

Then when will phase 4, the open beta test where anyone can play start? 
Y: We haven’t decided yet. That is because we haven’t started phase 3 yet.

So it’s up to phase 3 then.

Y: Yes. That is because there is possibility of bugs.

Say phase 3 ends smoothly in mid-July then when will phase 4 start?
Y: Phase 4 is something that’s finished and for everyone to try it out so it’s all up to the result of phase 3.

It was said the early access bonus from Collectors Edition is about 5 days, but open beta is about one week? 
Y: Might be short but I can’t answer on the duration yet.

Then say if it was right before the release date, why did you separate the open beta (phase 4) and early access?
Y: Open beta is for everyone around the world to try it out, and early access is a bonus for pre-order. Not everyone is getting early access, and as you know we want to split the wave of server rush (laugh)

Are you going to wipe character data in open beta?
Y: Open beta is open so as long as there isn’t any critical bugs we are planning not to wipe. As long as there isn’t any data type of bugs we aren’t going to wipe and transfer to official service.

But if you’re not going to wipe character data during open beta, wouldn’t that lower the merit of early access?
Y: Is that right?

You make character during open beta, and if you can play that character in official service, there isn’t much reason to purchase the Collectors Edition and participate in the early access. 
Y: I believe 3-5 days advantage for MMORPG is pretty big for players who want to play right away.

I see. So looks like people will dash start from open beta but you’re okay with that?
Y: Yes that is alright.

Hope there isn’t any unexpected trouble post phase 3 and be able to meet the Augusts official service.
Y: Yes. I am also looking forward to see what’s going to happen with this much volume, and trying to make this much complex system as simple as possible, at same time rendering at a maximum limit. (reworded)

This time we focused on the PS3 version in the interview but I believe there are many that will say “I’m of course going to be playing on the PC version” when are you going to announce the optimal PC or optimal gamepad information? 
Y: Almost. Once we get in June those information should come out. (note this interview was done May 30th)

This year we got Haswell and GeForce 700 series coming out around the same time, so we’ll have lots of optimal PC’s with those setup?
Y: I’m telling you almost (laugh).

Please give us your comment for the players waiting for beta test phase 3.
Y; This 2 and half years, it was really long time, and I really have made you wait a long time. I believe both PC version and PS3 version has it’s good parts. There may be merit and demerits as well but I believe to be able to have a MMORPG with this scale and quality, especially for Japan I don’t think there isn’t much chance to play a domestic game like this so I would like you to please try it out, and leave feedbacks such as want to see NPC display priority to increase and what you felt. It’s alright if it’s just feedback saying I Like it or Got bored of this, just give us as much feedbacks so we can use those for final adjustments.

Thank you, looking forward to phase 3.

Sources: NeoGaf and GameWatch.

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