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Final Fantasy 14 - Interviews - One Last Continue Talk To Tanaka And Sundi

One Last Continue talk to Tanaka and Sundi

30th August 2009

Yet another interview about Final Fantasy XIV. There are getting pretty repetitive now so when we read this one we didn't have the wide-eyed enthusiasm that we may have had a few weeks ago. One Last Continue bill themselves as an alternative source of gaming news and apparently provide you with news you won't get anywhere else. We can't say that this interview fulfils that lofty tag line but there are a few nibbles of new information that can be gleaned from it.

Below is a summary of the key points:

  1. Final Fantasy 14 was made for the PC initially and then ported to the PS3 (FF11 was done in the opposite manner)
  2. Machines will feature in Final Fantasy 14 in some form
  3. Pre-paid cards may be used as an alternative for people with credit or debit cards.

And now for the interview itself...

Less than half an hour after my meeting with the Final Fantasy XIII team I was ushered into another suite, this time to wax lyrical all things Final Fantasy XIV. After being introduced to the games producer Hiromichi Tanaka and the global online producer Sage Sundi, we were informed that the appearance of Final Fantasy XIV on the show floor was in fact the world premiere of game as a playable t itle. And to be honest, it was visually beautiful a game said to still only be in the alpha phase. While the world was lacking in the energetic population of a full-on active MMO, there were plenty of people running about from Square’s Gamescom booth, where lucky demo players struggled to understand anything they could about the game. You can check out some of FFXIV’s visuals at in the gallery at the end of the article, but overall the visuals stack up quite favorably compared to Final Fantasy XI.

Our first question for Tanaka was simple; why build an MMO focused mainly on the PC, when the Japanese gaming market has often shown a preference for offline single-player RPGs, and even then mainly on consoles and handhelds? Tanaka told OneLastContinue a couple of reasons why he felt the need for a PC version; first of all, for the MMO to succeed there must be a PC format version for those gamers who generally feel uncomfortable with console gaming, and secondly, having a PC version as the lead platform made it easier for them to port the game to the PlayStation 3. This helped Square get around a problem that dates back to their original MMO; Final Fantasy XI’s lead development platform was the PS2, and as such it was never able to reach the graphical levels they were hoping for. The graphical resolution on PS2 also kept the team from having an in-depth HUD on the screen for players; in the HD era of the PlayStation 3 this will no longer be a problem for either version. Tanaka confirmed that the game is most certainly portable to other platforms if the need arises, but at the moment their focus is on the PC and PS3 versions; any announcements or releases of other platforms will come as those two are finished. Another thing to note is that the PS3 version also supports a keyboard and mouse, making it the second full-scale PS3 title to support such a feature. More details will be released on this control method before the game launches.

Regarding the game’s setting, we have now learned that the world of Final Fantasy XIV is actually referred to as Hydaelyne, while the previously mentioned Eorzea is a specific geographical region of a continent known as Aldenard. We were also told that the setting of Final Fantasy XIV will be unique in that it blends science fiction and fantasy elements to a point at which it will be difficult to place in the past, the future, or the present. Also, like Final Fantasy VI, there will be ’some kind of machines as well’ our translator told us, which could be anything really such as large mecha-type suits to merely industrial type settings; it would not be surprising if the flying machines in the release trailer are connected in some way.

According to the producers, Final Fantasy XIV is not about reaching a level cap; instead, the game is more focused around getting together with other people (or playing solo if you prefer), and just enjoying the game by staging raids on the larger dungeons and boss fights. Due to the slightly different way in which the staff is going about building the quest system in this game, players can (with your permission of course) join up with you mid-quest and help you fight monsters, this time without having to have been there since the beginning. Because the storyline will be vast in its scope, there will be a more traditional Square-Enix approach to the game, now featuring fully voiced cutscenes in order to make sure the storyline is easier to follow than XI. As we mentioned before, level grinding is not the aim in this title; instead the focus in combat will be the newly implemented Armory system. By equipping any of a variety of weapons or tools, players can instantly change their active skills, thus enabling them to dramatically alter their style of play as well as their character’s outward appearance.

The much discussed Guildleves are small, rectangular plates made of stained crystal set into a frame of precious metal, each depicting a virtuous deed of one of Eorzea’s patron saints, also known as Guardians. When issuing tasks or quests, guilds will often provide adventurers with these plates, allowing their bearers “leave” to take whatever steps necessary to complete the jobs; several examples include allowing entry into normally restricted areas, hunting or harvesting on private lands, the confiscation of goods and even negotiations with those considered enemies of the city-states. Guildleves also grant use of Aetheryte portals, ensuring quick travel about the region; this means no more waiting for airships when you’re trying to go out questing!

Whilst talking about whether or not there would be a subscription based model for the title we discovered some interesting facts with regards not only to FFXIV, but also Final Fantasy XI. Originally, the team had considered using a microtransaction-based model with no subscription fees, but they came to the conclusion that most players would end up spending more over time in microtransactions than they would on a subscription. Most people remember the much-maligned PlayOnline service used during FFXI’s heyday; this was implemented due to the PS2’s technical limitations and lack of an inbuilt internet browser. Thanks to the current generation’s technological advances, however, the PlayStation 3 version will now make use of the platform’s internal Internet browser for the services originally provided by the PlayOnline online payment gate. When we mentioned the old FFXI issue of the lack of payment options for players who lacked a Visa or a Mastercard, we learned that the team is looking into a variety of payment options across their own web-based service, and prepaid cards are also being considered as well.

When asked about cross-platform interactivity for players, Sage Sundi addressed the question in depth, informing us that not only will the user-base be able to interact with each other across the differing platforms, but also he confirmed that they are indeed aiming for cross-region gameplay meaning truly worldwide servers, unlike its main rival World of Warcraft, which splits the user-base into three distinct regions across the United States, Europe and China. Presumably due to people wanting to keep their online identities, Sage told us that they are trying to implement a name/surname system in the game to allow people who may use the same singular identity, such as Sephiroth, to have a dual name in order to keep arguments about identity theft to a minimum.

One last thing we were able to get out of Tanaka was the possibility of having Airship battles after seeing similar trysts in the CG trailer from E3 this past June. More specific announcements regarding player ‘mounts’ will be coming at a later date. And there you have it; that’s all we could discern from our sitdown with the team taking the reins on the game, although we must say that the two gentlemen, and their translator, may very well have been some of the nicest we met at the Gamescom event in Cologne last week. Look for Phil Caron to post his updated feature on Final Fantasy XIV in the coming days but until then here are some images for you all to assimilate.

Final Fantasy XIV will be launching some time in 2010 for PlayStation 3 and PC, and information on beta tests will be released at a later date; perhaps packed in with a certain RPG that hits shelves next year?

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