The launch of Final
Fantasy XIV is approaching rapidly, set to release this
September. Ten Ton Hammer caught up with Square Enix at gamescom to
discuss the state of the game and find out a little bit more about the
anticipated release. We sat down with Hiromichi Tanaka, Senior Vice
Presient of Software Development and Corporate Executive of Online
Business Management; Sage Sundi, Global Online Producer of Community
& Service Division; and Nobuaki Komoto, Planner. The team was
able to answer some of our questions and teach us a bit more about what
Final Fantasy fans have to look forward to.
Ten Ton Hammer: How is Final Fantasy XIV coming along? Are you where you expected to be at this point?
Square Enix: As we were expecting, weÂre still working on some last minute stuff, fine-tuning things right up to the end to keep our players happy in response to their feedback. WeÂre still having some bugs and server issues in the beta version which we are working out.
Ten Ton Hammer: How is the progress in beta? Are you finding that the players are providing enough feedback to make the game what you want it to be?
Square Enix: We have received a lot of feedback from the players, some of what we were expecting, and some that we were not expecting. It has been very interesting. We were able to make some drastic changes during the beta to the final version which weÂre working on now--especially the battle system and also the UI system, including the mouse operation. We got a lot of feedback from the users, and weÂre very happy to be able to implement the changes. The current beta started this month and youÂll see a huge difference from the earlier stages.
Combat in Final Fantasy XIV
Ten Ton Hammer: How easy is it to switch back and forth in the control modes between a controller and a keyboard and mouse? Can you play the game on a controller, and then put the controller down and continue playing with a keyboard and mouse?
Square Enix: We have both options. We have worked really hard on the mouse and keyboard combination, but of course, some people will use the controller. Those people will find it easy to move around the cameras in the game using the controller and then using the keyboard to chat with the other players.
Ten Ton Hammer: We see that you have a 3D version one of the game's cutscenes running on the computer screen there in the background. Is 3D going to be available on all versions?
Square Enix: WeÂre still investigating the possibility, but this is the benchmark of the game. We havenÂt decided on how weÂre going to officially support it for the game, but if you have the equipment, youÂll be able to enjoy it. WeÂre trying to adjust it as fast as possible.
Ten Ton Hammer: Can you play on the console and the PC with the same account?
Square Enix: Yes, your account will allow you to play on both systems, but you will need to own both the PC version and PS3 version if you want to switch between them.
Ten Ton Hammer: When developing the game, do you primarily focus on developing it for the Playstation first and then port it or do you develop them separately at the same time?
Square Enix: Same time, like we did with Final Fantasy XI. ItÂs much more efficient. If youÂre going to import it from one version to another, that is going to take extra time and manpower and end up delaying the game. For an MMOG, it makes more sense to work on both.
Ten Ton Hammer: How easy is it to get into the game for Final Fantasy fans and those who might have never played Final Fantasy at all?
Square Enix: First of all, for Final Fantasy fans, you can expect attractive characters, storylines and cutscenes, so it will feel natural for them to enjoy the MMOG even though they may have only played the offline games previously. For those who have never played any of the Final Fantasy games, it will be easy to find out the story because just by following the story, you will learn the world and get into the new story.
Ten Ton Hammer: Are there any identifiable themes, places, or characters from previous stories?
Square Enix: As you have probably noticed in earlier titles in the series, youÂll find, coincidentally, the same named characters in the game that you may have seen before. Of course, their personalities may be different. And also, you'll probably recognize that yellow big bird from other games in the series.
Ten Ton Hammer: What has been some of your greatest challenges in developing the game and how did you overcome those challenges?
Square Enix: It was a huge project and a long term project. There were a lot of different creators involved, and each of them had a different opinion, so we had to have a lot of discussions to come to an agreement. That was very challenging and required a great deal of patience to do that. Keeping a high motivation was something that we always tried to do, but being able to get the game to the users really helped keep us going.
Bold new world exploration in Final Fantasy XIV
Ten Ton Hammer: As far as the crafting system, is it something similar to what we saw in Final Fantasy XI, or is it a new system entirely?
Square Enix: Some aspects are similar, but crafting is very different this time in Final Fantasy XIV. Of course, youÂll be following recipes like in Final Fantasy XI, but this time not in making it in just one action. You have to make it gradually, which makes it more challenging and interesting. Depending upon your actions, the outcome in quality will change. Also besides crafting, we have [harvesting] and gathering of items. You need to buy materials to make the items with crafting, which youÂll end up selling. ThatÂs the process that we think is very interesting and exciting, so, hopefully, youÂll enjoy the market system, youÂll enjoy that system as well as part of the crafting.
Ten Ton Hammer: What are the one or two aspects of the game that you feel that you really made an advancement with and youÂre really looking forward to see how the players respond to?
Square Enix: One thing that weÂre looking forward to the playersÂ reaction is the cutscenes. We havenÂt, purposefully, put in all the cutscenes in the beta version because we didnÂt want to spoil the storyline. Once itÂs released, we hope they enjoy the enormous amount of cutscenes and enjoy going deeper into the storyline.
Also, thereÂs the guild system. Again, in the beta version, youÂre only able to enjoy the low level type of guild content. But in the actual release version, youÂll be able to fight against different monsters. ThereÂll be different rules and we hope that thatÂs something that they can enjoy as well.
Ten Ton Hammer: Are the cutscenes done like they were in Final Fantasy XI, where theyÂre in-game cutscenes, or are they specially rendered cutscenes as well?
Square Enix: Only the opening cutscenes will be pre-rendered, but all the other cutscenes will be real-time cutscenes.
A large amount of cutscenes will be related to the userÂs personal story and related to the world. How their story is connected to the world is related through the cutscenes. Also, we have class quests, which are specifically designed for a certain class which is a more personal experience, then you will find out how that will affect the world and how you will be in involved.
Ten Ton Hammer: What sets Final Fantasy XIV apart from the single player games and other MMOGs?
Square Enix: With Final Fantasy XI, we developed the first online Final Fantasy game, but we werenÂt able to reach all Final Fantasy fans with Final Fantasy XI. This time, we hope all Final Fantasy fans will be able to enjoy this even though they may have never played an online game before. YouÂll be able to get into the game naturally, level up your character, and progress in the game more easily and in a more flexible way and enjoy the storyline. We believe that this is the Final Fantasy that theyÂve been waiting for.