by Cody "Micajah" Bye, Managing Editor
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
, 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.
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?
Planner for Final
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.
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?
The scholar is a magic user, but with multiple abilities that allow for
effective and flexible use of spells.
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.
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?
The box art for FFXI.
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?
"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.
Ten Ton Hammer:
Conversely, how does the Scholar fit in to the storyline?
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.
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
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
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.
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?
The two new jobs in
FFXI look to really add depth to the game.
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
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.