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Final Fantasy XI: Dancer and Scholar Interview

Updated Wed, Dec 16, 2009 by Cody Bye

Questions by Cody "Micajah" Bye, Managing Editor
Answers by Mitsutoshi Gondai, Planner for Final Fantasy XI

The war to stay ahead of the competition has been underway in the massively multiplayer gaming marketplace for nearly a decade, but only within the last few years has the struggle really reached critical mass. Subscription and retail box numbers are tossed about with growing rapidity, and the press rabidly analyzes any new statistics that come to their attention. One of the more popular games over the last five years have been Final Fantasy XI, and it continues to sell boxes and garner thousands of subscribers. With the release of their most recent expansion, Wings of the Goddess, the FFXI developers unveiled two new jobs – the Dancer and Scholar – and the Ten Ton Hammer staff recently talked with Mitsutoshi Gondai to learn all the details of these two new additions.


Mitsutoshi Gondai, Planner for Final Fantasy XI

Ten Ton Hammer: To start, can you give us a brief summary of the two new jobs that have been added to the game: the Dancer and the Scholar? What's special about these two jobs compared to the other jobs a character can choose from?

Mitsutoshi Gondai: The dancer is a healer that stands at the forefront of battle with the melee--a style of job that did not previously exist in Final Fantasy XI.

The scholar is a magic user, but with multiple abilities that allow for effective and flexible use of spells.

Ten Ton Hammer: How does an individual become a Dancer or a Scholar? Does it take any additional advancement compared to any of the other "Extra Jobs" that a person can choose? When are these Extra Jobs available?

Gondai: Including the dancer and scholar, there are now 14 extra jobs that can be acquired in addition to the 6 standard jobs available at the character creation stage. All extra jobs are acquired by completing specific quests. These quests become available once a player has raised a single job to level 30.

Ten Ton Hammer: Why did you decide to bring two new jobs into the game? Was their something missing in the overall game balance that needed adjusting, or did players simply need something new to advance in?
   
Gondai: These jobs were added for several reasons. With Final Fantasy XI's unique job change and support job systems, these additions create choices even for players who prefer a specific main job. And as well as introducing interesting new game mechanics, the dancer was designed to provide a melee job more suited for solo play, and the introduction of the scholar swells the ranks of the relatively few magic-using jobs.

Ten Ton Hammer: On the surface, both of these new jobs seem focused around high level magicks. Is this true? Were the other "Extra Jobs" lacking in classes that heeded this particular style of play?
   
Gondai: The new jobs were not designed solely with high level play in mind. In fact, we focused on the low level aspects of the dancer to cement its position as a viable support job. In the case of the scholar however, the abilities and flexibility of the job become far more apparent at the higher levels of the game.

The box art for FFXI.

Ten Ton Hammer: Concerning the Dancer, they're described as being able to weave extremely powerful magicks upon themselves and their enemies. What sort of role do they fill in the character's party? Do their magicks do damage or are they mainly buff / de-buff in nature?

Gondai: The dancer was designed to heal allies while engaging in melee combat. They are also capable of supporting their party members in a variety of ways.

Ten Ton Hammer: How does the Dancer class fit into the main storyline of Final Fantasy XI? Why have these pseudo-magickal warriors suddenly appeared among the ranks of citizens?

Gondai: The "Kriegstanz" style of dance became famous during the age of the Crystal War for its effectiveness as a means of combat. The more aesthetic aspects of the dance also served to lift the weary spirits of soldiers, leading to the common appearance of dancers on the front line.

However, Laila Brilioth, the legitimate successor of the Kriegstanz style in the modern age, has allowed a certain memory to hold her back. Exploration of her past experiences reveals the strands that weave together the story of the dancer.

Ten Ton Hammer: Conversely, how does the Scholar fit in to the storyline?

Gondai: In the age of the Crystal War there existed a prominent school of teaching known as "martial theory". Those well-versed in this study of strategy, otherwise known as military scholars, were universally welcomed into the ranks of each nation's army as staff officers. After the threat of the beastmen faded, so did the presence of scholars. The rapidity of their disappearance can also be accorded to a gruesome incident among this society of academics. The story of the scholar will be revealed as players progress through the investigation of this historical incident.

Ten Ton Hammer: The Scholar is said to know two magical schools and be able to switch between those at will. Are these two schools that are already seen in Final Fantasy XI? Or are they two different schools that only the Scholar knows?

Gondai: In addition to utilizing existing spells, there are white and black magic spells available only to the scholar.

Ten Ton Hammer: How do Scholar characters switch between these two schools? Is it quick? Or do players have a cool-down between how often they can switch between schools?

Gondai: Scholars are free to switch between white and black magic at any time. However, they must consider the recast times of abilities that enhance a specific school of magic in order to make the most effective use of their spells.

The two new jobs in FFXI look to really add depth to the game.

Ten Ton Hammer: How do Scholar magicks help him in a group situation? Is he more versatile because of his dual schools or does that limit his overall ability in the magickal arts?

Gondai: With access to both white and black magic spells, scholars can adjust their playing style to match the needs of the party. And while they have restricted access to high level spells compared to a pure white mage or black mage, scholars possess other abilities that allow them to perform roles no other type of mage can imitate.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there anything else you can tell the Ten Ton Hammer readers about these two classes?

Gondai: I think the new game mechanics introduced along with the dancer and scholar jobs have made Final Fantasy XI itself a more enjoyable game to play. In Final Fantasy XI, there are equipment sets known as "artifact armor" that have a distinct appearance for each job. Artifact armor will be available for both the dancer and scholar, and I hope players will enjoy acquiring and equipping their characters with these unique pieces.


What do you think of the new FFXI classes? Have you played the game before? Let us know on the forums!
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