Interview Game Watch s Yoshidou

Následující interview do angličtiny přeložil Miina Hayashi na redditu.

Q: Why is Gunbreaker a tank and not a DPS?
A: There are two reasons. First off, if we added it as a DPS, the numbers wouldn’t be balanced anymore. We already have a lot of melee DPS, so we didn’t want to add any more. The second reason is because it was about time to implement the FF series jobs that people around the world had been requesting, such as BLU. We considered that a gunblade job would make a good draw because of its flashiness and appearance, and adding it as a tank would be great for role balance. We debated about whether we could make a tank different from the ones that fight at the forefront and in the end decided to go with gunblade. There were a surprising amount of people who predicted it’d be a tank – about 70% of the community. I think that means the players are also aware of FFXIV’s job balance and design policy.

Q: Right now, the three tanks are well-balanced. What will happen when you throw another job into the mix? Can you tell us roughly what Gunbreaker’s special characteristics will be?
A: Honestly, please wait until May for the answer. We’ll show you how the four tanks will differentiate themselves, including their new actions. We’ve had three tanks up to Patch 4.5, and we see tank players‘ preferences with regards to MTing, OTing, tank stances, etc. I don’t think it’d be good for the three tanks to form a „triangle“, so maybe we’ll balance them by having two MTs and two OTs, or make them capable of both. Right now, we’re working towards a compromise as we adjust the actions. We’ll announce the battle system details in May, so please wait until then.

Q: You announced that Gunbreaker would involve „pulling the trigger the moment you slash the enemy“ as its battle style. Is that a command input or some kind of setting?
A: If we make the player pull the trigger every time, then controller players will get tendonitis. We plan to show it graphically, with actions that’ll let you feel like you’re experiencing it. We always emphasize a different game experience based on each job’s base concept, so Gunbreaker will be released with its own job system as well. That will be revealed along with the battle actions in May.

Q: It was announced that the gunblades would be different from the ones the Empire uses. Why is that?
A: Simply because I wasn’t involved with 1.0’s story. The Empire’s gunblades were designed before I joined FFXIV, so it feels like they aren’t the gunblades that everyone wants to see. The Empire’s gunblades are bayonets–they’re guns with blades attached to them. However, the gunblade that the players want is Squall’s, right? They would be happier if we implemented that one instead. But of course, it has to tie into the lore, so the job quests will explain why we haven’t seen these non-imperial gunblades until now.

Q: Please tell us how the magicked ammunition works.
A: Please wait until May.

Q: After the conclusion of Patch 4.3’s story, the Empire appeared as the next threat we face, and players were excited thinking that gunblade might be added as a new job. When did you really decide to implement Gunbreaker?
A: It was decided at around Patch 4.1. That was just about when we were doing the game design for the next expansion, so it was confirmed around then. That’s how long-term our planning is. This month I have to finish the complete plan for the next two years. I’ll be talking to everyone for several more years to come.

Q: I want to ask about something that we DIDN’T see. We didn’t get a single hint for the second new job. Why is that?
A: I don’t know why you think there’ll be a hint every time. The fact that my t-shirts end up being hints is completely coincidental; it’s not to make people speculate. There’s still more than a month until Tokyo fan fest, so you need time to think about what job will be next. It’s more fun that way, instead of already knowing the answer. The fact is that there’s a lot we can’t reveal because of lore reasons. We want the players to be surprised.

Q: The question everyone got the most excited for at yesterday’s press Q&A was the male vieras. Since it’s you, Yoshida, we think there’ll be male vieras. But in FFXII, male vieras are extremely rare and never appear. How are you going to introduce them into FFXIV?
A: Who knows? I’m a contrarian, so when you say „Yoshida would definitely do this“, it makes me not want to answer. Actually, in the Return to Ivalice story that concluded the other day, there’s a ton of lore about vieras in FFXIV. We coordinated with Matsuno-san to include most of the hints there, so please check that. Matsuno-san wrote wonderful texts for us.

Q: Will the preorder bonus item, the Aetheryte Earrings, stack with other EXP-boosting items?
A: It will stack up until a fixed amount, but there’s a limit. It also has a new system where the item level rises with the player’s job level. You can wear it at level 1 and it’ll automatically get stronger as you do. We’d been discussing this for some time, and if you preorder Shadowbringers, you’ll receive the item beforehand so that you can use it to prepare for launch.

Q: It’s a great system. Are you thinking about developing this system into something else?
A: No. In a way, this system makes certain other items worthless, so we don’t want to abuse it. If we did, then other items would lose meaning aside from appearance. If it were to be a region-specific effect like in Eureka, then maybe. Other than that, it’ll absolutely need my approval in order to be used.

Q: Will the developer of the Nier series, Platinum Games, participate in developing the new alliance raid?
A: They’ll be sharing assets with us, so in that sense, yes. But just like with Return to Ivalice, the FFXIV team will create the boss battles. Platinum Games won’t be involved in actual development.

Q: As a fellow creator, what do you think of Yoko Taro?
A: My first impression is that he’s incredibly smart. His speech feels calculated, in a different way from myself. I never compared us, but if I had to say, it’s like he tries to leave some kind of „scars“ on you. He wants his creations to leave some kind of mark on the player or reader, any mark at all. I don’t know if I can go as far to say as that’s the purpose of his work, but at any rate, I strongly sense that power from him. Anyway, he’s interesting. He’s one of the few people that I can eat with and get excited over game talk with.

Q: There are many different reactions to YoRHa, ranging from welcoming to rejecting. Did you foresee this response?
A: I think that as we reveal more information about Shadowbringers, YoRHa will begin to make more sense. At any rate, both Saito-san and Yoko-san are being careful to make sure it blends in with FFXIV. They don’t want the FFXIV community to reject it, and of course they want to leave something with you. The FFXIV team feels the same way–we don’t want to impose too much on the Nier community. Both sides of the collaboration want to make something that both communities will enjoy. We’ll integrate that into the gameplay experience and create something unpredictable, so please look forward to it.

Q: When did you start working with Saito-san?
A: Game development-wise, after Dragon Quest X.

Q: Saito-san is a producer. What kind of involvement does he have with this project?
A: He’s probably the top producer in Square Enix. Neither of us really think of each other as producers, and Saito-san probably doesn’t think of himself as a producer either. He just wants to do fun things, and „producer“ is simply his job classification. Saito-san can do game design too, so he has a lot to offer, and he excels at thinking about things. He’s open-minded, and if the director (not limited to Yoko-san) wants to do something, he lets them do it. It was the same with Dragon Quest X. The producer should have 100% faith in the director and gather people to create what the director wants, while convincing the people who are against it. If both sides aren’t happy, then they should separate. That’s how much he puts stock in people. For this project too, we didn’t talk about duties at all, and simply agreed that it’d be interesting to do something like this.

Q: Would you say there’s a special connection between you?
A: I don’t know if it’s „special“, but we’re both so busy that we only get 1-2 chances a year to drink together, and now we’ll have to see each other for work, so I’m glad we’ll have more opportunities to drink together.

Q: During the video message, Yoko-san said that the story wasn’t done at all, but what is the real development status?
A: At the very least, I hear that Yoko-san has a clear idea in his head of what he wants to do. Next is how we’re going to introduce it into FFXIV’s lore. It’ll be a back and forth between us until we reach a conclusion.

Q: What did you think when they brought up the idea?
A: „Oh, that makes sense.“ We could certainly make something really interesting. I don’t want to say any more for now, since I want to tell the story when the three of us are together.

Q: Matsuno-san tweeted that he was passing the baton to Yoko-san, but when I completed the Return to Ivalice series, it really didn’t feel like it was over. Are you considering a continuation?
A: The great thing about Matsuno-san’s works is that they don’t feel complete on their own. His game design is all about creating the presence of the history and characters. The story that he wrote for us encroaches on Eorzea’s history and lore in a good way, and it’s possible that it’ll get involved again and something new will come out of it. I didn’t request anything from him; he wrote the new text himself and it was implemented upon approval. I think it’d be interesting to collaborate again in a different way if we get the opportunity. After all, I’m a Matsuno believer. But Return to Ivalice really was great. I think there are people who didn’t like it, but I’m glad that the people who played FFT were happy with the ending.

Q: The presentation of Shadowbringers‘ trailers feels different from previous expansions. At Las Vegas, it made us go „Oh?!“ and now at Paris, it slightly changes what we see. The presentation seems like it’s meant to mislead us–like if we interpret it directly, we’ll be far off from the truth.
A: That’s exactly right. I got tired of the previous trailer pattern. It got predictable, so of course I wanted to break the pattern. This time, we did it like a movie preview, and only picked out the juicy parts of each scene, so that when you look back, you think „Wait, isn’t this the end of episode 8?“ We also purposely added voices to the trailer. Before, we had breathing and fighting voices, but this time we have clear dialogue. All of the lines are word-for-word written by myself. I thought about how each line would be interpreted or misinterpreted, and after writing the entire scene, picked out which parts would be shown at each fan fest. I think Soken used the same track for NA and EU, but the Tokyo one is completely different so he has to write it again.

Q: So when we see the final trailer at Tokyo fan fest, will we think „What, it was THAT?! We were tricked!“ ?
A: Who knows? I think you won’t understand it until you see it with the MSQ. FFXIV’s trailers are meant to be impressive, even if you don’t really know what’s going on. Existing players know the MSQ, so they have an idea of what’s going on and can speculate how it connects to the next patches. However, I think there’s also an aspect to it that you won’t understand until you actually see the Shadowbringers MSQ. I’m also worried about whether Visual Works will finish it in time. The EU fan fest trailer was only completed the day before I left.

Q: The Baldesion Arsenal was revealed at today’s live letter, and it felt like it’d be huge for FFXI players. What’s the concept behind it?
A: I left the game design up to Nakagawa and didn’t say anything besides the concept. Nakagawa is a hardcore FFXI veteran, to the point where you’d recognize his character name. There were other essences brought in too, and I gave advice from my past experience with MMOs.

Q: I like how there’s a warning before you go in.
A: In Diablo hardcore mode, you can lose your character, so there’s a warning beforehand. We did the same thing. I think it’ll be shocking when you wipe, level down, and get kicked out. „But we were only in there for three minutes!“ There’s a death penalty and you can’t raise. There’s a lot of tension as your manpower gets whittled down. Maybe you can normally dodge something, but your nerves make you mess up and get hit. „But that was just a normal AoE!“ I don’t think the boss mechanics themselves are that difficult, but you can’t retry. You can’t try again right away after wiping either, so the mechanics are balanced as such.

Q: Please tell us about the Trust system coming from FFXI. We didn’t get any new information on it this time–is that because development was delayed, or are you saving it for Tokyo fan fest for some reason?
A: There’s still a lot that I can’t say. Since the main NPCs join you in battle, it’s tied to the MSQ. For example, who will join you? Right now, all of the Scions are KOed, but thanks to the trailer, you know that you’ll be able to work with Thancred, Y’shtola, and Urianger. I see a lot of speculations online, about whether it’s a Y’shtola from a different timeline or they went back in time, but I’m not going to say anything. At any rate, development was not delayed. I plan to do a thorough check in late April.

Q: Why did you choose Namae-san for the dev panel?
A: When planning fan fest, I tell each region to think about it themselves. For example, in Japan, an extremely high percentage of players are raiders, so there’s a really good response to battle development panels. Even if we talk about really specific, hardcore stuff, they understand what we’re talking about. North America also has a strong raid community, so it’s battles everywhere. On the other hand, Europe is very artsy, and everyone has different ways of enjoying the game, so if we focus on battles too much then the audience doesn’t really get it. Also, since there’s a TON of work to do for the expansion, we’re restricted in who we can send. As Namae herself said, the character art team is already done with their 5.0 work. Last time we had another lead concept artist, Mogi, at EU fan fest, so I thought that I’d like to ask Namae this time. Namae said that she was influenced by European designs, but she’d never gone overseas before. I told her, „You’re free to refuse if you want, but you’ll be able to see France this way. How about it?“ and she pondered it until the last minute before accepting.

Q: The FFXI wiki is already updated.
A: I feel a bit bad for them, sticking to what was written in blogs 10 years ago. In FFXIV we can say „That’s wrong“ in live streams and whatnot, but FFXI’s community is still in a closed-off era, and the devs don’t have that same level of communication with the players. FFXI is under my jurisdiction now, so I think I’ll put some effort into getting the players excited for this, via ReFriender and NA as well. I’ve actually been playing FFXI too these days.

Q: Do you plan to release a benchmark program with a character creator?
A: We’re working on it right now. The second take of the cinematics storyboard is finished. It won’t be ready before Japan fan fest, but it’ll be out before launch, probably in time for spring PC replacement. There will definitely be a new benchmark, and you’ll be able to test viera character creation on it.

Q: Will the graphics requirements go up with this expansion?
A: We did it last time, so this time we won’t. However, dropping DirectX 9 and 32-bit support is already huge in itself. This frees us from the 2gb memory cap and makes debugging easier. We researched standard PC specs around the world and I think the game experience was improved as a result of that, but right now, you don’t have to worry about it at all. On the other hand, when we hold these fan fests, I feel that people are really hoping for graphical improvements. But it’s hard. Changing an MMO’s graphics engine has upsides and downsides. If there’s a chance that we’ll lose a lot of players at once, then there’s also a chance we won’t make money, so we can’t treat it like a standalone game. We don’t have any concrete plans yet, but we continue to observe the market.

Q: Next month’s fan fest is finally at your home base, Tokyo. Seeing how lively Europe was, I can only imagine how much more excited Tokyo will be. What are the highlights?
A: First off, the scale. 15,000 people! It’s three times bigger than Europe, which was 4,500. This is going to be our biggest fan fest yet, and we’re taking up Makuhari Messe’s halls 4, 5, and 6. It’s like a solo Tokyo Game Show. The stage is going to be unusual. When you arrive at the venue, you’ll probably go „What?“ and laugh. I want the attendees to be impressed that a single game can do so much.

Q: I’m sure there’ll be a lot of news at Tokyo fan fest. The new job, raid, Ishgard restoration, Trusts, etc. There’s so much–will a 90-minute keynote be enough?
A: I think I’ll narrow it down to the major topics. I won’t talk about everything. After all, there’s still April, May, and June before launch, so I want to gradually delve deeper into the information. So, not everything is going to be revealed at Tokyo fan fest. It’s not good to have too much news either. If you pinpoint things then they stick with the players better, and after introducing the easy-to-understand content for brand-new players, we can break it down from there and finally move into mass-PR.

Tokyo fan fest will have big reveals. I think the Trust system will be difficult to understand without seeing it in action. There’s a lot to talk about, such as how detailed it’ll be, whether you can swap out characters, what happens when you clear the MSQ, etc. Something like that would be better suited to a live letter with an in-game demonstration, rather than a keynote speech.

By the way, I’ve yet to write a single word for the Tokyo fan fest keynote. The keynote contents only exist in my head, so I’ll have to bring them out and set the stage. At any rate, we’ll make you glad that you played FFXIV. If you weren’t able to get tickets, it’ll be just as exciting to watch it on Twitch, so please do. The guest(s) will be amazing, too!

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