Final Fantasy XI Fanfestival Interview

Questions by Mary Garcia, Onrpg Writer [1]
Answered by the FFXI Development Team: Sage Sundi, Yoji Fujito, Kouichi Ogawa, Hiromichi Tanaka, Mitsutoshi Gondai, Akihiko Matsui, and Mizuki Ito interviewed the FFXI Development Team at Fanfestival 2008!

On the new Moblin Maze Mongers feature:

Onrpg: When you look at what Vana’diel already has, what made you feel we needed the Moblin Maze?

Dev: At last year’s Fan Festival, we initially announced this project as “My Dungeon”. One of the reasons we wanted to bring this out was that we are always giving out new content with some way of introducing new items into the game. One thing Vana’diel did not have was something players could do where they can customize something themselves. This is the main attraction of “My Dungeon”; that it is yours. Players get to tweak it and adjust it however they like. So that is something novel to Vana’diel. Also, it provided us with the opportunity to play with some more technical ideas and system side features that we wanted to try out.

Onrpg: About the Moblin Maze function. From the feel of the crowd, 200gil was a little expensive. Is that for a solo player, or a group, and does it scale up for difficulty?

Dev: It does not scale at all according to the difficulty of the maze or the settings or the level. It is the same for everyone, solo player and full party alike.
A: If a player is entering in a group, only one person has to pay the fee.

Onrpg: What is the lowest level you can enter the Moblin Maze Mongers?

Dev: Level 1 is the lowest level a player can enter.

Onrpg: Is the Moblin Maze Mongers planned for parties or alliances?

Dev: The system is set up to accommodate a full alliance.

Onrpg: In the Moblin Maze Mongers demonstration, we saw there was some music that was free. There will also be tracks players have to pay for. Are these paid tracks new music we have not heard yet?

Dev: In the Moblin Maze Mongers, there is a point system, where a player receives Moblin marbles after the completion of a maze. Premium tracks will only be available through purchase with these marbles.
Dev: No new music, just tracks that have been released up until now. In having all of these tracks available, some will have to be paid for with the marbles.

Onrpg: If a player has made a dungeon they like, is it saved somewhere to be used again?

Dev: The pattern in which players set the rune on the tabula is saved. They can always refer to the tabula to see how the runes are set so it can be recreated.

Onrpg: Where will all these be stored?

Dev: It will work the same as puppet attachments. It won’t trouble a player’s gobbie bag at all.

Onrpg: Any other content that will be available with Moblin marbles?

Dev: Yes there will be more items available. What we did when we designed these items was instead of making them high level end-game equipment with desirable attributes, it is more of an aesthetic thing, for looks. It was designed this way so that the system will not be mobbed by high end players trying to get gear.

On Campaign and the Wings of the Goddess expansion:

Onrpg: Any plans to allow skillups in Campaign battles?

Dev: Unfortunately, it is something that can be exploited very easily so it is something we do not want to allow people to do in Campaign. We would like to have people doing skillups in other parts of the game. Also, the new Moblin Maze Mongers is a likely venue for skillups.

Onrpg: In Campaign, when multiple NPCs are attacking one monster, it becomes very difficult to target anything. Are there any plans to make a command to target the closest enemy?

Dev: That is something we are consciously aware of and unfortunately it is something system side that is very difficult to accommodate. There have been a lot of complaints, even within the development, team about it. IT is something we are looking into, but so far, nothing yet.

Onrpg: Any plans to allow players to warp directly to Garlaige Citadel [S], Crawlers Nest [S], Eldieme Necropolis [S], and the beastmen strongholds?

Dev: The initial concept was to take players out into the field, into the outdoors for battles.
Dev: Mr. Ito forgot the initial reason why, knows there was some sort of problem but cannot recall specifically what it was. It is something we get a lot of feedback on. We want players to warp into the open field and have to travel to these places so that there is some kind of effort. It is something we will look into if there is enough feedback.

Onrpg: When will the Iron Ram body piece be released?

Dev: Soon. (laugh) Maybe not so soon. We want to time it with the release of the Northlands areas in the past.

Onrpg: What is the incentive to travel to the beastmen strongholds in the past?

Dev: There is a definite reason to visit these areas. The most recent patch we added the beastmen stronghold NM system, and there is very good gear players can get from these monsters. Players can also kill the 8 NMs for the key item triggers to access the stronghold battlefields for even better gear.
Dev: There are also plans to make Campaign areas merit camps for players. We are constantly tweaking the Campaign areas.

Onrpg: When players battle in Campaign, they let the NPCs take care of the big NMs. Is this intentional?

Dev: That is the way we intended it to work. You have to exploit the NPCs. (laugh)
Dev: It is designed to be a group effort, so that different players do different things with the NPCs. It is a very complex system.

Onrpg: Summoners have the ability to buff everyone in Campaign with their bloodpacts. Will this ever be implemented into gameplay outside of Campaign?

Dev: It is something that happened in the design, and is not something we are planning to take beyond Campaign.

Onrpg: It has been a year since Dancer and Scholar came out. How happy are you with the balance of the jobs and their functions at this time?

Dev: One thing we intended when we designed them was that, unlike the Treasures of Aht Urghan jobs, we wanted Dancer and Scholar to be very viable subjobs, rather than mains. Many players have been using the jobs as subjobs which is one of the original intentions. We are pleased that it is going according to plan.
Dev: That is not to say that we only intended for these jobs to be leveled to 37. What we are doing now is adding Group 2 merit categories and new items. We realized they didn’t have relic and were lacking a lot of things, so that is part of what we are introducing in hopes that players start playing these as main jobs as well. We look forward to seeing the results from that.

On the new mini-expansions:

Onrpg: With the new mini-expansions, is this the format we are going to be focusing on more in the future, or will there be large scale expansions like the last four we have had?

Dev: At this point in time, there is nothing really decided on another big expansion on the scale of the previous four. The new format is a new trend we would like to like to bring in, to try and see if it works out. It is going to be running concurrently with the on-going patches for the Wings of the Goddess expansion, which are also still planned to be continuing throughout the next year or so.

Onrpg: What are your thoughts behind having many expansions instead of one big one?

Dev: It was something we have wanted to do, and since the patches for Wings of the Goddess are still continuing, we have had our hands full. We approached the former FFXI writer, Masato Kato, whom worked on the original Final Fantasy XI and Rise of the Zilart storylines, and asked him if he would like to compose new storylines to be incorporated with this new system of smaller content packages.

Notorious Monsters & other battle related topics:

Onrpg: Absolute Virtue. What were your reactions when the version update came and linkshells began zerging it. Obviously that was not the planned way to kill it. Are there any plans to give us new information on killing it the intended way?

Dev: When Absolute Virtue was created, at that time the newer strategies (such as zerging) the higher end players have adopted for playing did not exist. These were not things we could take into account when we designed Absolute Virtue, and we decided to make it a two hour fight, which ultimately entailed reducing its hit points, and unfortunately when it was released, players used the zerg strategy. It was unexpected and unfortunate.

Onrpg: Almighty Apkallu. It has been a year since we received the last few hints, yet nobody has been able to find out anything about him. Is there anything you can share?

Dev: He just doesn’t like to show himself. He is a hard character to track down.
Dev: It is something we are able to adjust. It is possible to meet him now, to find him now, but if people still cannot find him, if the player community speaks up, it is something we will have to look into.

Onrpg: Are there any plans to add new items to Zeni Notorious Monsters to keep it fresh?

Dev: There are no plans to introduce new items.

Onrpg: Will there ever be a change to the respawn timer of monsters in dungeons?

Dev: When we first worked on the dungeon concept, the reason for the longer repop time was to make it easier for players to progress through a dungeon, since sneak and invisible spells had not yet been introduced. If dungeons start becoming regular camps, and an adjustment becomes obviously necessary, then we will have to look into it.

Onrpg: Any plans to revive PvP (Ballista) in a dual or a large battle?

Dev: When Ballista was originally designed, the PvP atmosphere was not something we really felt was in our original Final Fantasy XI world view. One thing we have always been big about is people playing together as opposed to against each other. If there is enough feedback from the player community, if people feel they need a PvP system, it is definitely something we would be willing to look into. But at this time there are no concrete plans.

Onrpg: Will Dynamis, Limbus and other similar areas be changed to instanced type areas, while keeping their respective timers, so that players do not have to wait for an area to be free before entering?

Dev: Technically, on the system side, it is possible. It would, however, require an enormous overhaul of the systems that are already in place. It would require an entire patch of working. It would be a very big endeavor.

Onrpg: What about new Dynamis areas?

Dev: No plans a this time.

Onrpg: The music in Dynamis-Tavnazia begins with the standard music, then changes to the Sunbreeze Shuffle, and then finally to Christmas Jeuno music. What was the reasoning behind this?

Dev: (laugh) Because it is a nightmare. The universe is supposed to be the dreamed up world of Diabolos. A very chaotic world where anything goes.

Onrpg: Were the Mythic weapons meant to rival the original relic weapons?

Dev: The concept of Mythic is completely different from the original relic weapons. The originals are designed for big damage and specific weapon skills, whereas the new Mythic were designed for specific jobs, with more focus on the usage of TP as opposed to big damage. Naturally, there is a difference in the damage output, but that is because the weapons are designed differently.

Onrpg: What is magical critical hit?

Dev: Critical hits will not appear in the log, but players will notice magic will do more damage, a nice surprise. It is something we want to add to more items in the future.

Onrpg: Are there any plans for new mounts similar to the chocobo?

Dev: System-wise, it would be hard to implement at this stage, so no plans for new mounts. Just the chocobo for now.

Game Functions, Merit Point System & Jobs topics:

Onrpg: With players leveling new jobs to 75 more frequently, are there any plans to raise the merit cap in the combat, magic, attributes and job specific merit categories?

Dev: Something we have been definitely thinking about is raising the cap on pre-existing abilities, as well as adding new ones.
A: On combat, magic, and attributes, it is not something we haven’t considered. We have considered the possibility, but we have to take into consideration things such as the difficulty of the monster that players are generally fighting. We have to make sure a nice balance is maintained and the combat system does not become too easy.

Onrpg: Have you ever considered a way to remove merits and get the merit points back, possibly making it over a certain amount of time?

Dev: The original idea we had when creating the merit point system was to have variation amongst players with the same jobs. If we were to change it now, we would have to reconsider the entire design.

Onrpg: The biggest problem with this is the addition of new jobs. Players have to take out points, thus losing a lot of experience earned for those merits. Even if a delay of some sort was implemented, I think the people would accept this.

Dev: We definitely are not considering an option of a reapplication of already earned merit points. If anything, merits would be adjusted by raising caps in their categories.

Onrpg: What does physical potency merits do for blue mage?

Dev: It is a simple increase in accuracy for physical magic attacks.

Onrpg: In-game command functions. Are there any plans to add more than six macro lines per macro slot?

Dev: At this point in time, there are no plans to expand it.

Onrpg: Ninja emerged as a tanking job, and then the Paladin became so strong. Now Ninja has become the less preferred tank. Any changes to Ninja in the future?

Dev: The Ninja has not been neglected. We always have all the jobs in mind. It has not received adjustments directly like some of the other jobs have, but indirectly we think we have maintained a good balance by making adjustments to other areas of the game.

Onrpg: Is there a type of job you feel Final Fantasy XI still needs?

Dev: (laughs from the team) In a previous interview, a gentlemen had a request from a young child from the Make A Wish Foundation. The child asked if we could make a Bee Mage.
Dev: If an opportunity presents itself for a new job, we would love to make one, but it is up to the director. We also have to make sure no two jobs overlap in the game.

Onrpg: Part of the problem in making one job is making another obsolete.

Dev: One thing we keep in mind when creating new jobs is that we have to make sure people do not abandon other jobs. After the release of a new job, if we see some trends where one job is being neglected because another job was introduced, that is when jobs get adjusted accordingly.


Onrpg: Final Fantasy XI was based on Final Fantasy I, and in keeping with the Final Fantasy theme, do you feel that Final Fantasy XI, being an MMO, has allowed you to keep more to the theme and general feel of Final Fantasy?

Dev: For the magic system and the world overview, we took most of the inspiration from Final Fantasy I, but we had to work within the technical limitations and make what we could. The job system was pulled from Final Fantasy I, III, and V.
Dev: Between all the Final Fantasy series up to this point, Final Fantasy XI is the closest one.

Onrpg: In regards to the community voice, how does someone coordinate an effort to make a change in the game?

Dev: There is no official forums on Square Enix’s site due to the multi-lingual nature of the game. The role has been assigned to the Premier Sites. We have community managers who are viewing these sites, so if somebody wants to raise their voice about something, we hope they will go to their respective Premier Site and post there and organize a community effort to try to institute some kind of change. And there is also the option of direct feedback by emails.

Onrpg: For someone who has never played Final Fantasy XI, if you had one statement to say, what would you say to them?

Dev: We have had a huge success with the Level Sync system, which makes playing at lower levels very easy, and we have the 14-day free trial available now, so it is easier than ever to get started.
Dev: For the players that have left the game, we would love to have them return and try out some of the new content.

Our interview ended with group pictures (one is shown above).

Read more coverage on the Final Fantasy XI Fanfestival 2008 on the Forum!

[1] Questions are composed by Mary Garcia, Onrpg Writer as well as others from the Media Coverage group.

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