As announced, I was fortunate enough to get to interview Square Enix during E3. FFXIclopedia had it's first real interview with a few of the FFXI top dogs - Senior Vice President of Software Development Hiromichi Tanaka, Wings of the Goddess Director Koichi Ogawa Global Online Producer Sage Sundi and North American Producer Yasu Kurosawa. Koji Fox did the translations.
From left to right: Koji, Tanaka-san, Ganiman, Koichi, Sundi, Yasu
Is there anything you can tell me about the new jobs that will be released in Wings of the Goddess?
The only thing that we can say at this time is that there will be more than one.
Corsair, Blue Mage and Puppetmaster don't really fit a tanking position. Will there be a new tanking job?
Again, we can't really say too much. But we do want to say that the new jobs that will be released will be a good balance with the jobs that are here now so there won't be too much weight on one certain type of playing style.
Will the new jobs that are coming in Wings of the Goddess play an important role in accessing the new areas?
Acquiring the new jobs will be directly connected to the new areas. Other than that there is not much we can say right now.
Will there be instanced battlefields so multiple groups can enter the same battlefield at the same time?
There will be areas similar to Assault areas.
Will Wings of the Goddess be mission related only? Or will we be able to gain experience points?
It won't be like the Promathia areas where they are more mission related. It will be more open.
Will there be a level requirement to access the new zones?
As for the regular areas, there won't be any level requirement. As for the Assault-type areas, you will be able to set a level requirement.
Will there be capped missions similar to Chains of Promathia?
Right now we're not thinking of anything like that.
Many players have told me that they would like to see more content that can be done with smaller groups. You have said that an assault-style setup is planned. How many people will be allowed to enter?
We're thinking of many different things that can be done with small groups like the Assault missions with 3 or 4 players and also bigger types of things where you need lots of players.
Will Wings of the Goddess reenact events from the Crystal War?
The Crystal War will be the foundation of the story in Wings of the Goddess and also we hope to catch on to some things that weren't even revealed in the previous expansions telling more about the mysteries behind the Crystal War.
Are we going to see the battles that took place in areas like Sarutabaruta?
Yes, the players will be able to come in contact with a lot of historic events that happened during the Crystal War. The battle in Sarutabaruta was one of those. The expansion is not experiencing the whole war. It's going back in time and being part of the things that happened at that time and solving mysteries of things that happened during the Crystal War. It's not like you're going back and experiencing the whole war.
Will we be able to travel across zones the way we do now, or will it be like Assault where we enter through some kind of portal where you sign up for a mission and you are teleported to that zone?
For the most part you will be able to travel between the areas freely. To get back to the past, where the expansion takes place, there will be a special portal.
How many stories are planned on being told? Is there one for each nation? Will it depend on which nation you belong to?
::laughs:: We have many things planned. We cannot tell you.
Will the new zones be part of the conquest system? Or will this be something entirely new?
It will not be connected to the conquest system. It will be something totally different along the lines of a besieged system.
Will we be able to see the current standings from any time? Or will we have to go back to see the standings of the past?
We're hoping to make it like it is now where you can see conquest and besieged results by pulling up a map. We hope for the new system to be accessible from anytime and anywhere.
Will Wings of the Goddess increase the rank cap for the three main nations? Will you be able to obtain a different story by changing nations?
As for the stories of the three nations, we feel that those stories have come to an end. Right now there are no plans on increasing the number of rank, however it's not something that is set in stone. There is always the possibility for increasing the ranks. Right now we feel those stories have ended.
You have said that Wings of the Goddess will have around 30 new areas. Most of them will be revised versions of the original zones pre-Zilart. Will any of the new zones include Tavnazia before it was destroyed?
::laughs:: We cannot tell you that.
Can you tell me more about the multi-player battlefields that are planned for Wings of the Goddess?
The only thing we can tell you right now is that there will be Besieged type multi-player battlefields.
Was Besieged a test for what's to come in Wings of the Goddess?
It wasn't really a test, but it's become a foundation and given us ideas and experience for what we will be implementing in the new expansion.
Are we going far enough back in time where the ancient currency we see in Dynamis is used? Will that be part of this story line?
Ancient currency was used at that time, but what the players will probably be using in the past will be gil.
Einherjar appears to be a very random battlefield and does not scale to the size of the group entering. Some groups have reported to clear a zone with 6 while others fail with 36. It seems to be very unbalanced. I have tried it a few times with myself and we wipe with no chance of recovering. I find it very difficult to get other players to return to that battlefield. Although I'm sure people appreciate the efforts of Square Enix to give us a new challenging battlefield, what plans do you have to adjust this battlefield?
That system was not really intended for small groups. As for adjusting the difficulty, we're always watching. It was just released, so we're still watching to see how players are reacting and gathering data. We do plan to make adjustments in the future.
Will the Aht Urhgan storyline and the missions be concluded before Wings of the Goddess is released?
The main missions will be finished before Wings of the Goddess is released.
Will we ever gain access to the pit or the collessium?
"The Pit" will hopefully be released in the next version update.
Have you thought about implementing a runic portal multi-pass?
The reason we will not do this, is because when the Astral Candescence is taken by the beastmen you cannot get a pass to use the runic portal. And so if you get 5 of them, and then the Astral Candescence is taken, you would still be able to use them which is something you are not supposed to be able to do. We don't want people hoarding these passes.
Back in March at the Premiere Site Summit, we were told that there would be a window mode released. When will this be released?
The reason this has been taking so long is that FFXI uses DirectX 8. To allow the windowed mode, we have to rewrite the program to be DirectX 9 based, which is what we're doing right now. And we hope to have all of that work finished by the time Wings of the Goddess is released. It will probably come out at the same time the expansion is released.
In higher levels, a balanced party setup that skillchains and magic bursts struggles to gain experience points in comparison to a heavy melee party, which can kill enemies much faster and quicker. An
experience point bonus to successful Skillchains could help a more balanced setup of players earn levels and merits. Do you have plans to make skillchain/magic burst parties more attractive?
::lots of commotion between them:: This is very long answer, but the jist of if is, yes we realize that right now some people cannot get parties right now because it is easier for melee parties to kill monsters, and so we are thinking about doing some adjustments. There will be an overhaul when the new jobs come out because we want to make them balanced with the others. We will also balance the existing jobs to work with those. When that balance occurs, there will be some adjustments made, and hopefully that will make some of the other jobs more attractive and alleviate some of the melee parties. By doing these types of adjustments, we will have to make some of the monsters stronger.
Are you considering any revisions to the auto-translate function to give us more useful conversational terms such as mission names to make it easier to communicate with multi-lingual parties?
There is a memory limit to the size of the dictionary. We do look at the words in the dictionary each month and we do add new things that we think are the most important. What we need is the players, the players are the ones using it, so we need feedback from them - we don't need this, but we need this. It is kind of difficult because we are going into many languages and the Japanese will sometimes have three meanings, and if you put it into one, then it could intend another one of the meanings. If there is stuff out there that players say they really need, then we can change that in a version update.
Do you plan to implement more storable armor sets? Right now there is a rough level range of 25-50 where you can only store the normal quality. Will we be able to store the high quality as well as other armor sets?
We'll take that back with us. The person who is charge of that is not here today, but it is something we can work on.
The throwing skill is the only attack skill that has no weapon skills. Many players have shown interest in seeing throwing weapon skills. Most consumable throwing items do not get used like the Shuriken - they are too expensive and no one uses them. Are there any plans to implement throwing weapon skills and increase a market for consumable throwing items?
This has been something that the person in charge of this has wanted to do for a long time. There is a programming limitation holding us back. Right now, rather than adding new throwing weapon skills, we're thinking of other ways to make throwing weapons more attractive to players.
The adventuring fellows cannot access Aht Urhgan zones. We brought this up at the summit March but did not get a good answer. Are there plans to give Adventuring Fellows access to more zones?
The answer that you got back in March had to do with the party situation. Once that is solved, we believe that they will gain access to these zones. As for them being able to go back to the past, they will be able to go to Aht Urhgan before they go back to the past - but it's not a never type of answer.
A common complaint I hear about the game is how the graphics engine is dated and does not use hardware acceleration. Is there a plan to eventually allow the PC client to take advantage of a user's advanced graphics hardware?
Right now there are no plans for this. By adjusting things like shading all of the models would have to be redone, and that will not happen. You can't really get that kind of support in most MMOs. Also by doing that, it will seperate the PS2 version from the PC version. We don't want to seperate them that much.
A large number of people feel like crafting is slowly dying, and some would argue that it's already dead. Also, aside from occasional new synthesis recipes, crafting has received very few or no modifications or enhancements for years. Many people are bitter about the fact that they spent years, and millions of gil leveling up crafts that are by and large worthless now. Are there any plans to breathe life back into this system?
This is one of the big problems we are working on. Our main goal was to first fix the Real Money Trade problem. First dealing with the RMT sites was our main priority and now that we have dealt with most of them, and the economy is going back to normal, the next thing we will be looking at is going back into working on the synthesis system. If you do too much to the synthesis system and make it attractive, make it attractive again to the Real Money Traders, then that's a problem as well, so that's something we have to work on the same time.
::laughs::: Never ask questions about Absolute Virtue :::laughs:::
Absolute Virtue is now believed to be completely invincible. No methods have been discovered on how to defeat him, with the majority of the end-game community from North America, Japan and Europe at a complete loss as to what to try. Some minor information about his Regen was released, but it appears that he has been modified without any announcements. How can we defeat him? We've had over a year without learning his secret, it is about time some real information is released. Are there any more tips you can give us about this NM?
We cannot give you any other tips besides if you kill the monsters around him, it will slow the regen ability.
Do you believe it is possible to beat him?
We haven't made it so that it's impossible. We still believe ::crosses fingers:: we still believe that there is a possibility that people will be able to defeat him. People just haven't found the right strategy. At the next Fan Festival we'll have the dev team defeat Absolute Virtue (not a good idea)... maybe some videos... no....
Are you afraid that they won't win?
Will we see relic gear for the three Aht Urhgan jobs?
It will be released in the future.
Will it be obtainable through an existing battle system? Or will it be something new?
The thing we can say is that it will be different from Dynamis.
I got BLU to 75 pretty quick and I've been waiting for it...
We're sorry. ::laughs::
Are there plans to add new spells to existing jobs? Maybe something like Aspir II or Reflect?
In Wings of the Goddess there will be a lot of adjustments, and probably at that time things will be added.
Would you consider giving more items the ability to be bundled?
If enough players think it is necessary, than we will definitely consider it. We'll take that back with us.
Many people feel two-handed weapons are becoming a thing of the past. Even Dark Knights are dual wielding axes. What are your plans to add items for the sub slot to enhance two handed weapons?
The same question was asked at the private show that we had a few months ago, and the battle developer did talk about something like putting something in the open slot to give people an advantage to using two handed weapons.
Will there be another fan festival?
Yes. We have a fan festival coming up this year. The place and the exact date will be announce in a couple of weeks.
How about another premiere site summit?
We would like to do this at least once a year. Perhaps a couple of months after Wings of the Goddess.
Can you tell me anything about the next MMO?
There is not any new information we can give you other than that it is still in motion. Back in September we announced we are working on a common engine. The FFXI, FFXII and FFXIII are working on the new engine that will be the base for the next game.
Would you consider releasing your next MMO for operating systems besides Windows?
Nothing is set in stone, but we are shooting for PS3, Xbox 360 and Windows. This is not to say that there will not be a Linux or Mac OS version. Creating versions for those platforms would be a little harder, but it's not out of the question.
I gave each of them FFXIclopedia tshirts and some mouse pads - they were a huge hit. Everyone put their shirts on with big smiles for a group shot.
Edited to fix the broken images