Ever since the launch of Final Fantasy XIV Online, massive restructuring of the game has been taking place - beginning all the way at the development team. In the ten months since the team's regrouping, every aspect of FFXIV has been gone over with a fine-tooth comb to develop an improvement plan. The new team has been extremely open with the community about both their past shortcomings and what the plans are to regain the acclaim that comes with the Final Fantasy franchise as a whole. This is a refreshing change in the MMO world, and fans have been pouring forth their support and encouragement for the team as they traverse the path to FFXIV 2.0.
Recently Curse had a chance to meet with Producer/Director Naoki Yoshida to discuss the changes and restructuring that the Final Fantasy XIV team has been working tirelessly on, and we've even gotten some insight on Yoshida's favorite aspects of the new FFXIV 2.0 plan. Read on to see our Q&A paired with additional information about the changes.
What is changing?
The metamorphosis to 2.0 is quite involved and extremely game-changing. Some of the biggest projects include:
- Complete redesigns of maps
- New graphics engine and server system
- Completely renewed user interface for PC users
- Extensive expansion of in-game content.
The current maps were designed for seamless passage across wide expanses of the realm - however, to maintain that seamlessness assets were heavily reused and the result was rather repetitive. A major goal of 2.0 is to redesign area maps to give a fresh and dynamic feel to areas and increase the feelings of adventure for users.
Concept Art - Geological Anomaly
New landmarks, zones, and themes will be added, balanced and improved upon to optimize the player experience in FFXIV's numerous environments.
Graphics Engine Implementation
Final Fantasy XIV in its current state has some of the most mind-blowing graphics quality among current-generation MMORPGs. The team's goal is to implement a new graphics engine that will maintain this high level of quality for the game's graphics, while still optimizing for play on the PlayStation 3 and similarly powered PCs. "When I joined the project, development of Final Fantasy XIV for the PS3 was already underway, but not in the manner it should be done," Yoshida says, "The team at the time had been taking the game and cutting it down, taking away features, reducing graphic quality to ready it for the PS3. Instead, we've started over to rework the project to maintain the high level of quality people expect, and the features that the PC game will have."
The server system is to be rebuilt to support a worldless model for party and content player matching, quick searches for community data and PCs/items, and improved efficiency of data transfer.
User Interface Renewal
With the multi-tiered code in the current UI system reaching a staggering point of complexity, the team has decided to completely rebuild the UI system core from scratch. New features will be implemented and framework will be put in place to allow user-made add-ons! "When I first played FFXIV on a PC I wanted to throw my keyboard and mouse," laughed Yoshida, "the interface is being made much more user-friendly for PC users."
This does appear to be the case, as plans include multi-window capability with drag and drop functionality, plus expanded customizability for many of the game's user interface features.
Game content is to be expanded greatly as the game moves towards 2.0. Massive lists of changes to come can be found at their 2.0 Teaser page, but here are some highlights:
When asked which specific addition or change to the game he was happiest with, Yoshida replied, "I'm very happy about the addition of the Chocobo back into the game - it's something a lot of fans really wanted to see again. The Chocobo is an icon of the series and adds another mode of transport to the game."
The above is just a fraction of what is to come content-wise to Final Fantasy XIV.
Fan Support & Thanks
"We have the best fan base in the world, thank you," Yoshida said of FFXIV players. In fact, support from the franchise's millions of fans has provided a solid foundation of encouragement and inspiration for the team, and it seems like their commitment to the cause of realizing the new FFXIV is only gathering strength as they push on towards 2.0. They've taken several measures to thank players for their loyalty, but the most impressive to us at Curse involve the subscription plans:
Players with both active Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV subscriptions linked to the same Square Enix account will be eligible for a discount, and up until 2.0 a 'pay as you want' type system will be put into place. What this means is that as players feel that Final Fantasy XIV is worth supporting through a subscription fee, they can re-subscribe at their will to show their willingness to support the team.
Based on what we've heard from the development team, we can say we have high hopes for the future of Final Fantasy XIV. With the devotion and care that's being put into each aspect of the restructuring, the same essence of quality you see in the Final Fantasy series as a whole is being recaptured here at last. For full outlines of the 2.0 rebuilding process, check out http://lodestone.finalfantasyxiv.com/pl/teaser/