2014-02-20 Game Watch Interview Translation
PT 1 Source : http://game.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/interview/20140220_635897.html
PT 2 Source : http://game.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/interview/20140221_635995.html
*** note to self : Retainer paid service is from Famitsu article - http://www.famitsu.com/news/201402/20048324.html
GW: Regarding the PS4 version we tried out this time, about how much is complete?
Y: I believe we’re up to around 90%.
GW: What’s the remaining 10%?
Y: Addressing the PS4 regulations. During the presentation I mentioned that we used the PC version as the base to develop and optimize for the PS4 version, for example each shaders on the character is transferred over by recoding to work with the PS4’s pipeline, so it’s not a simple transfer. Therefore we go through the process of recoding then transferring. Overall work is finished, but there are couple bugs that arises from doing this, so we’re addressing those.
GW: Was there anything that was troubling during the development?
Y; Actually, we can’t think of anything (laugh)
GW: That’s surprising, so it went pretty smoothly?
Y: I might get in trouble from rendering and person in charge of client system but getting it to work on the PS4 was fast. We went into full development around October last year.
GW: So that means, it was after the FFXIV: ARR official service start.
Y: Yes. Of course we were preparing prior to this, however at that point it was where we completed the rendering, from there on we were waiting for the PS4 development kit. Aside from the 32 bit PC version, PS4 is 64bit so we started from addressing the 64bit part, then simply get it to where we can run it, then from there we said it worked pretty smoothly without doing much. From there on we just started optimizing for each pipeline. It was fast.
GW: Was there any merit by addressing the 64 bit for the FFXIV?
Y: Well, the way the OS and pipelines are thought is done via 64 bit and not 32 bit, so we have to address this or the software won’t even run. But being able to use the memory efficiently, and having increased specs for CPU and or GPU is something, when we’re going to address the DX11 later on we need it running in 64bit. This time we got the 64bit version for the PC version so we believe we would be able to address the DX11 development much easier.
GW: I would like to ask you regarding the plans put behind the PS4 version. For the PS3 version you mentioned you tuned it to a point where it uses the near maximum limit on the console. PC version is a full speci MMO aimed for global audience, what did the PS4 aim for?
Y: This time I asked the staff to use up as much of the PS4’s specs. unlike the PS3 where the hardware was small and tight to get the large object (game) into. We can’t put everything in so we put priorities and we had to discuss on parts that should remain at 100% size, or others that could’ve been dropped to 70%... stuff like that. When thinking about the memory, the amount of UI’s that can be opened was different, there was things we had to limit. From the past Square-Enix tries to get the maximum output from the hardware in their games. Vagrant story for example was one of them, Final Fantasy XII was also same. PS3 version was something close to that where it was something hard to be made, we believe we got it out to it’s maximum.
Now regarding the PS4 hardware, having Mark Cerny involved in the hardware desiging was big. He was involved from the foundations of the PS4, so from the start of planning we contacted and had many discussion along with our CTO Hashimoto (FFXIV Technical Director). For example, regarding the memory, we brought up talks like this amount of memory isn’t going to be enough from our end, or how much of HDD space we want...... I believe for Mark being the middleman between us and SCE, he understands our demands but same time he has to think of the cost so I believe it was really tough for him.
As a developer we looked at both PS3 and PS4, and we also made games on the Windows so it was pretty quick to get these addressed. I believe if it was those that only touched on the PS3 this would’ve been a hard task, also for those that may have only touched the Windows version might think about dropping the console and will end up being hard there.
For us, we were doing both, so it was really fast addressing, and Mr. Cerny is used to the pipelining so it he was able to get a hang of the optimization methods pretty quick. In order to bring out the hardwares limits we need to develop lots of titles, that’s true. However for FFXIV:ARR being a launch title, we believe we got it to a point where everything is used nicely. Please check it out during the Beta.
GW: For the PS3 version post launch timing, for example it was missing libraries, or there was enough features in the SDK, there were hard situations for third parties, and because of that there was an issue getting some titles. Nothing like that happened this time?
Y: Firstly, the libraries needed to develop a PS4 title is there, however, for we since we are making a MMORPG title, there were some special ordered SDK’s surrounding network components. As for SCE it’s normal for them to prepare orthodox standalone SDK first.
We were able to continue working with SCEJA right along with the PS3 version, that really helped. We told them stuff like “If you want us to get into beta test by the PS4’s release date, we need to have the SDK prepared by this date.” (laugh)
We have been working with SCEJA since the PS3 version, we held weekly meetings almost for 2 years, and I was in charge of promotions and free transfer service, while the development team was working hard with the technologists. They feel like comrades for the same project and I am thankful.
GW: When looking at the PS4 version on the actual machine, the colors really stand out and it’s beautiful. The data itself is exactly same as the PC version?
Y: Shader is a bit different, and looking just at the process, I believe the PS4 is higher. For the PC version depending on the graphic board, graphic chip and the drivers provided by AMD and NVIDIA the way the colors/image stands out is different. If you concentrate on one side and just optimize that it’ll have problems where it’ll work with one driver but not with the other, so we can’t do that. On the other hand the PS4 version has a fixed hardware, and it’s easier for us to optimise. Process that are same such as the reflection, like water for example, and halation, for these calculations the PS4 version is better than the PC since we were able to optimize some more.
GW: (pointing at the monitor) Even these street scenes looks really beautiful.
Y: Yes. Other than that it’ll depending on the maker of the household televisions the color is different, so it’ll probably look different when looking at it at home. For example the backlight is different when comparing Sharp and Sony’s one.
GW: If you can, would you want to specify a optimal TV for FFXIV ARR?
Y: Personally I like the makers which make the black stand out, but that’s my own personal preference so I won’t say which one. (laugh)
GW: Earlier when playing the Titan hard mode, I felt as if the effects became much more beautiful, but is this also affected because I’m looking at the TV?
Y: The objects haven’t changed. However the shader is definitely different, so it may look more sharp because of that. PC monitor colors are normally set so you can look at them for many hours without getting tired. However for household televisions, they are made so the image stands out. Even if the surrounding environment is bright, since the backlighting is strong, it can process the image much clearer. It’s hard to buy a 40” class PC monitors, however for household it’s standard now to have about 40” television. I really would like for everyone to try it out on their large screen household televisions.
GW: So for the PS4 version you would like players to play on the television rather than the PC monitor?
Y: For me personally, yes. I want people to experience that household gaming came this far finally.
GW: I see. it feels like the PS4 version’s colors are more vivid as well.
Y: That’s probably because of the detailed objects we made is being affected by the color of the backlight and resolution. We have done demo’s on 4K but we haven’t changed anything for that one either, it’s not like we’re adjusting the colors on it either.
GW: You mentioned that for the PS4 version the amount of character displayed increased greatly, but does this mean it can display the same as the PC version?
Y: Yes, same as the PC.
GW: For example the background looks nice, is this same as PC as well?
Y: It’s same.
GW: Lighting and the shadow also looks a bit different because of the shader difference, but the base is same?
Y: It’s the same. We haven’t changed any of the assets.
GW: The rendering being this smooth is very appealing. When I questioned you in the previous interview regarding the PS4 versions frame rate, you mentioned it was fixed at 30 FPS but what has happened?
Y: I have instructed them to try not go under 30, it doesn’t have to be fixed 60. Regularly for scenes that doesn’t have much stress, I believe it should get 60 frames.
GW: So the PS4 versions frame rate is not fixed at 30 but it can now get up to 60?
Y: Yes. So it should be getting 60 at fast parts.
GW: Not being fixed at 30 but having the least minimum being 30 is a big direction change.
Y: Yes. Well in places such as Odin F.A.T.E. where you have few hundred players along with tons of battle effects going on, in these type of situations I believe it’ll come down a bit more.
GW: So it’s 60 frames display, while the graphics being PC versions highest settings?
Y: There is a small gap in the shadow and streaming process, but I don’t think it’s noticeable just by looking. I think it’s alright to think that the highest settings.
GW: On the PC version we have the breast movement, is this feature also in just like the PC version?
Y: Of course it’ll be in just as is, also it’s still being finalized but the wet effect is also coming in the PS3.
GW: What happens when it gets wet?
Y: Basically it places another bit map over the texture...... it’s kind of like what you see in anime’s when the character goes in water and gets out, the base color becomes darker, just think of that. The surround areas where it gets wet will change color, it’s being calculated so for example when it rains it doesn’t wet the entire body, it’ll just wet around the parts that got wet.
GW: So for plate type of gears it will look damp?
Y: The lighting will change a bit. Also this wet effect isn’t only for characters. During the last producer letter live, the staff that is working on the BG was sad (laugh). Staff was saying “Players are all concentrating on the characters, but the BG also gets wet in a wide range”
GW: What kind of example can you give for what gets wet?
Y: Such as the ground. That’s why we have put in some work towards the BG. It’s a wide area to cover. But most people only talk about the characters so, it’s a little sad (bitter smile)
GW: You mentioned the wet effect is going to apply for the PS3, and you have mentioned that the PS3 version is pushed to it’s limits, how was it possible to increase the graphic display for the PS3?
Y: As mentioned during the presentation, we have been saying this title being a new title for the Final Fantasy series we have been specially particular with the graphics, so I believe we established the best standards compared to other genres. So, at the timing of 2.0 release, I am thinking that it was high quality. However by putting in some more time, there are small detailed processes that becomes possible, and this is what was added in this time.
GW: What kind of plans do you have to challenge the graphics in the future?
Y: Well we have to address the DirectX11
GW: For effects, something like snow piling up?
Y: Yes, but snow piling up is something more of a BG. Making it leave foot steps is pretty easy, we actually have estimated, to increase snow would mean to add a temporary layer for the snow so instead of rendering it’s more of a BG’s cost issue. It won’t be fun if you can’t play with it......
GW: This will be doable with the PS3 in future, so you would like others to look forward to it?
Y: Hmm, not sure. When it comes to that point, it’ll start taking up the memory, so it may be hard to do with BG layer.
GW: You will continue to challenge regarding graphics?
Y: Yes. I believe we will continue to do so. Well for reflections the PS4 is better than the PC so if you’re interested please check it out.
GW: In the current FFXIV ARR some of the character’s actions has physics applied against objects, are you planning to add more physics into the game?
Y: I don’t think for a MMORPG we need extreme physics in place. Not negating EverQuest Next (EQN) (MMORPG which has physics) I believe that a new type of play style, and as a challenge I think it’s a great challenge, I would like to try it out myself as well. However, I constantly think to myself how can we make sure it’s fun, and make sure the balancing is just right for the contents, and be able to keep on updating fast, this becomes the key point. If we went full on physics I think it’s going to be really hard to do.
It might just be that I’m lacking knowledge, when physics are involved, it’ll become too hard for me to take charge. We have to calculate to get the answers out, and with this we can’t just go by logic, we have to go by both logic and calculations resulting in balancing complications. If it’s simply a standalone world I believe it’s possible to push it through, but with physics you really don’t know what’s going to happen. If you miscalculate just a bit it’ll affect the entire contents calculations. When thinking about these things the cost and return doesn’t match, scared that it’ll instead make it harder. If it’s like “KNACK” where everything is based on physics then I think it’s totally okay, but if you’re going to do it in a large field, we need to ask ourselves we really doing this? This part is out of my knowledge. I do believe it’ll have a strong impact though......
GW: I see. So most likely we won’t see physics suddenly being added into the game.
Y: At least for FFXIV that’s probably the case. If we’re to do it, do something like where the hair can move beautifully. It’ll be limited by the amount of bones, but how the robes flutter, or use physics to have long mantle to sway beautifully, i think these are alright.
GW: So using physics in those type of sense is alright?
Y: It may be far in the future, but I cannot say there won’t be.
GW: I think the remote play feature from the PS4 is really great. I have tried it out but it really turned out great.
Y: Thank you. I was thinking about changing my play environment at home to PS4 (laugh).
GW: You don’t need the PS Vita, but I felt that just having this gives a reason to have the PS4.
Y: When I touched it for the first time, I was already thinking “Hey, this will probably work”.
GW: Before trying it out, I was expecting it was going to get somewhat blurry due to the streaming and also with some lag, however the the image was nice and on top of that there was no lag. So I really felt that you can use remote play to play battle contents without any problem. Was there any struggle when developing this?
Y: For this one SCE did really great. When it uses tools added from the outside, people would say it won’t affect the performance, but in reality it ends up where that happens. For example we had situation with our own play online which was eating up a lot of memory. But this time we requested to make sure to separate the rendering buffer calculations so it was really easy to address. It was done in a really short period of time.
GW: This time we used Wi-Fi connection to play, but if this was done via internet connection, will there be some delay?
Y: There will be delay for sure. This will also depend on the players household environment as well, and their internet providers, depending on the type of connection there will be mm/sec difference. From there you’re going to connect via internet to send/receive information to the PS4 so the delay can’t be avoided.
GW: It’ll be enough for crafting?
Y: For Japan the infrastructure is really good so you should be able to do daily quests without any problems. Crafting and Gathering will probably be more typical.
GW: PS Vita’s screen’s text is too hard to read, but does that mean we should increase to about 140% font size?
Y: Basically, yes. I don’t want people to try and communicate while using the remote play. If you hook up a keyboard, it loses it’s meaning, and using the software keyboard also doesn’t seem right. It’s more of something you use when you want to check out Eorzea on your own. Sure you can tell your friends and static members that you’re going with PS Vita, I don’t see nothing wrong with those. If it’s between friends I’m sure they will overlook some lag the player may experience, it’s all up to the individual players play environment.
GW: To connect from outside via internet, we need to have the PS4 on and have the FFXIV:ARR running to play?
Y: You just need to have the PS4 in sleep, energy saving mode. From SCE’s viewpoint they want the PS4 to stay powered on and when there is access it’ll go into full running mode.
GW: From trying it out, currently we can’t save the settings but it’ll be nice if we can save the HUD layout along with text settings for say PSVita mode layout, and whenever you switch to PS Vita to have it automatically switch to that mode, if we can do something like that we really can play with it full on.
Y: We are planning to go that direction.
GW: Oh, when’s that going to be implemented?
Y: We’re curring working on this aiming for launch. I think when you tried it out today you noticed that this when controlling the cross hotbar, normally you would use L2/R2 which is controlled behind the PS Vita, but we have this switched so it can be controlled with the L1/R1 with separate configuration.
Also when you’re playing on the PS4 the gamepad UI is displayed as priority, and when you switch to remote play it’ll switch to PS Vita’s specific UI, so we’re going to allow players to be able to customise this themselves.
GW: Just to confirm, post official launch when we start remote play, it’ll automatically resize the text to 140% and on top of the the HUD settings will pull up the custom setting set just for the Vita , am I understanding this correctly?
Y: You can save the font size already right now. For the other part we’re challenging to see how much we can do, we’re going to check the beta test feedbacks and make priorities and address accordingly.
GW: Well, trying the PS Vita version, I feel like you can just release a PS Vita version as well, or is that not possible?
Y: You get the feeling as if it’s running with this much quality but what’s making that possible is the PS4. With the PS Vita’s specs you won’t be able to produce this much quality from FFXIV ARR (bitter smile)
GW: So that being said, the PS4’s remote play is the realistic solution.
Y: Yes. Since FFXIV ARR is running on everyones PS Vita, people are going “Oh wow!” but the “Oh wow!” is actually PS4 (laugh). Also the FFXIV program team worked hard on this. Aside from this we just think of it as cloud service to add devices. Cloud gaming where it calculates on the server and deliver the images to everyones device.
GW: Another sales point for the PS4 version is the Share button. With this you can broadcast and upload videos, but what’s going to happen to where you can upload these?
Y: SCE is the one supporting the streaming. It will live broadcast when sharing. The buffering is different from the rendering happening on the game side, it’s similar but it will broadcast what has been double buffered to live broadcast. For this one there isn’t any saved data, so it’s just broadcasting in real time. I believe if you want to record videos or take screenshots you can choose your own upload location.
GW: Will it be possible to upload to the Lodestone?
Y: It’s not like we have a enormous back-end server so we are not allowing videos on Lodestone. However, once we decide on doing contests, it’s possible where we may give x amount of space to upload a video to upload temporarily.
GW: Regarding this share button, how do you want the players to use this?
Y: Well in the current era we have people uploading to Nico-nico douga, or Ustream, as well as Twitch. Before was blogs on the internet. It started off with some simple stuff, then we had links and CSS evolving the web, then we got animations and music, then now we’re to a point where we have live streaming.
When I was lots of MMO’s I used to upload my own PvP video’s. Had it set to highest quality and capture that in the background, edit the video and borrow upload server and upload it there. It was hard, but I think those people streaming on Nico-nico is spending some cost to do that. They also have to buy graphics board and capture cards, then put that one straight to streaming. They are putting in some cash/effort into their hobbies.
But with the PS4, that feature is already available, with a press of the single button you can broadcast. That’s why for example say for user community event, where they do in-game chocobo racing or events. If you tried to live broadcast that on Nico-nico it’s pretty hard. But with the PS4 I believe that can easily be done. For example all you have to say is announce that you’re doing an event, for PS4 you just say something like we’re live broadcasting and all the PS4 communities can watch it, I believe that’s how it going to end up.
Also, this will allow to show our method, like for PS4 as example, we can tell them we’ll live broadcast the devs playing it, that can be easily done. Up until now we had to talk with game media’s to do joint events but we can freely do that now. It’s really big that anyone can do this. Right now it’s still passive, there are more players watching than streaming. But now that the PS4 is already released in the Western countries it’s being streamed like crazy (laugh).
GW: For Japan, it'll be nice if we can broadcast on Nico-nama or Youtube. Is that something SCE decides?
Y: It’s SCE. I think they have to think about how they are going to restrict comments and other things.
GW: That might be pretty hard. But if they can address this it will get everyone hyped.
Y: I think so too. For Nico-nico douga there is some parts that feels like underground and I believe those kind of things are the parts that excites people. I think putting restrictions there won’t get people excited, it will depend on how the hardware makers view this.
GW: Question regarding the PS4 versions UI. First off, is the gamepad UI, the cross hot bar exactly same as the PC version and/or PS3 version?
Y: Yes it is.
GW: For the PS4 version, you previously mentioned that it will be possible to use the mouse/keyboard controls. Today since it was the PS4 versions demo, there were people playing with the mouse and keyboard, but from the PC version player, we’re curious to how well it turned out. This time we were able to play just like the PC version, and I was wondering, is it OK to think that we can directly bring over the PC’s mouse/keyboard to the PS4 to use it, or do we need to buy a specific recommended hardware to do this?
Y: I believe this will depend on how SCE’s policy will be. Those devices that require specific drivers might be hard. There are those that has extra buttons for the mouse and keyboard which can be configured via config. Please test out different devices you own during the beta test to check it out.
GW: Another part that was interesting, was the DUALSHOK 4’s touchpad, I knew from before that this can be used as a button, but was surprised where you can assign keys to both the left/right side of the pad. With just the touchpad alone you can assign 3 keys?
Y: Yes. There isn’t a select button on the PS4, so as a default we have it as select. All you have to do is open up the config and change the settings.
GW: At default the R1 and L1 is set to pass through in order, but for example, will it be possible to set this to work as right click, left click?
Y: It will be possible later on.
GW: So that means, you can use this instead of the mouse, that’ll be useful.
Y: I believe it will be useful. You’ll be able to change the cursor speed as well so please try adjusting that as well.
GW: For the remote play the PS Vita’s touch panel worked to control the cursor, I felt the screen was bit too small for this. But the PS4’s touchpad can be controlled smoothly.
Y: It can be used just like a mouse so yes.
GW: There may be some players that might play it this way.
Y: Sure. For example set the cross hotbar in toggle settings, then just use the touchpad to press. I’m sure some will do something like this.
GW: If you change the HDD to SSD on the PS4 version will it faster?
Y: Not sure. Having players switching to SSD is done at their own responsibility, and I’ve been advertising the PS4 enough, but PS4 is SCE’s hardware so (laugh). I’m sure you’ll be able to do it. I’m sure later on people will start thinking about HDD space increase later on.
GW: When I actually tried it I didn’t feel like it needs to be switched to the SSD like the PS3. Compared to the PS3 the read speed is much faster.
Y: It’s fast, that’s for sure.
GW: Is that because the architecture changed from the PS3 to PS4? Or is it because something is different for the PS4 version.
Y: Well basically it has a HDD with faster RPM as same time, we have been making it so it can be read as fast as possible from the beginning, and the memory capacity is completely different. Things that are being swapped inside the memory is working much efficiently. This time we have a lot of memory space, so we have more things that are permanently placed in the memory. For these things we don’t need to re-read from the HDD so that also helps increase the speed.
GW: What was most stressful for me while playing the PS3 was that in places with large amount of players, such as F.A.T.E.s the monsters and characters hardly displayed.
Y: Even if there was an available memory, when the hard disk physically tries to read the high quality resource there are too many detailed transfer passes causing it not transfer anything by hitting its physical limit. I am sorry but it’s the limit of hardware.
GW: So then I switched to SSD, those areas with high lodes, and zone changes became faster, when I tried it at works high speci PC it was much faster even if it was on a HDD. Right now I’m playing on the PC but after trying out the PS4 version today, I am thinking about switching to the PS4
Y: At work I’m on the PC, but I’m thinking of also switching to the PS4 at home. I really like it that you can play on the big screen monitor, and this display size is really good.
GW: The installation size to the HDD is same as the PC and PS3 version?
Y: It’s pretty much the same.
GW: About how much do you think it is right now?
Y: It’ll depend on the size after the update patch 2.16, right now it’s about 12GB, and when thinking about adding the expansion pack later, we want everyone to at least have about 40GB space.
GW: For the PS3 users is this where you want to tell them “Please switch your hardware?”
Y: Yes. For those that purchased the PS4 console, please look into that option. For that reason we have prepared the free transfer service, we prepared service even if we’re going get hated by other companies (laugh).
GW: Do you mean that it’s not right for it being free?
Y: Yes (laugh). This goes for SCE’s own titles as well, but when you transfer from the PS3 to the PS4 version it’ll cost about $10. We talked with SCE and we were able to get it out.
GW: As for the PS3 version support, are you planning to continue supporting forever even after the PS4 version is out, is that your policy?
Y: Currently, we are working on plans for the expansion pack, but we have the PS3 included for this expansion pack.
GW: So that means, in future, after this expansion pack, there may be a time where you won’t be able to play it?
Y: It may be possible in future.
GW: Oh? How many years later are we talking here?
Y: That’ll depend on how many players are playing on the PS3 version. In the presentation we did earlier, we talked about wanting to continue keeping FFXIV innovative, but when we try to achieve something innovative it requires some machine power to make it possible, that type of situation may occur. When you think about how other MMORPG’s are mostly made for the PC, it will work with certain PC specs, for example, sorry for bringing up EQN again, but for something like that which requires physics involved in the map and players, it will require high spec PC to make it work. If that gains a lot of attention and grabs a lot of players, when the players moves to a rival company, we can’t just sit and do nothing, we have to have some of our own weapons to fight back against other MMORPGs.
For example, getting on a flying mount and diving from a high altitude straight down to lower altitude and then having a 200m long dragon, and being able to fly around freely. If we can get a large scale F.A.T.E. like this one, it’ll be amazing to look at, and it’ll feel good as well. However, in order to do that it will require a minimum requirement on the hardware specs.
As we mentioned many times, we are developing this game so there won’t be as much gaps between players play experience due to the hardware. However if we keep doing that, and come to point where we can’t be innovative, that’s not “FF”. That’s why I am not going to say here that we will continue to support the PS3 forever. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to play it a year from now, not thinking like that so please do not worry.
that’s why we put in support to make sure they can switch to new hardware for free, if we can do something together with SCE we will try to do something proactive.
GW: I see. Before, you mentioned that your goal for FFXIV ARR is to continue the service for 10 years, and say it continued for 10 years, it’ll be hard to keep the PS3 along the way?
Y: Yes. I believe it’s a scale. It will depend how many players are still playing on the PS3 version, and how much of hardwares limit it has reached. For me, if it’s fun, I’ll probably go with that. But I won’t just cut the hardware, we’ll try to be courteous and support those players, then make the switch. SO, I won’t say that I’m not thinking anything like that.
GW: At earliest is it few years out?
Y: Yes. But, again I want people to be rest assured that the next 3.0 expansion includes the PS3 in the plans.
GW: Going into a different topic. In patch 2.2 you announced that you are going to release Leviathan. Water processing in FFXIV ARR is pretty heavy, even when starting Sirius, it’s pretty heavy load. For Leviathan stage it’s covered with water, so I’m assuming it’s going to be heavy, but is this going to work on the PS3 version?
Y: You’re talking about the PC version right? If you have the PC versions water reflection to max settings, it will be heavy for sure. For the PS3 we don’t have much reflections put into it. We cut off the reflection in the external options so I believe the PS3 version would be lighter than the PC version.
GW: I see, then let me ask you this, is there anything on the PS3 that’s better than the PS4?
Y: Compared to the PS4? Hmmm, hold on.
GW: For example in FFXI there was many things which was actually better on the PS2, right?
Y: Ah, for FFXI that’s true. PS2 had anti-aliasing and transparencies in their hardware features, so that was the beauty of that hardware. If you tried to get that out by calculations it’s really hard to do. So it was the reason why the PS2 version was much lighter and better looking.
GW: Yes, PS2 versions FFXI was really light. That’s why I was mainly playing on the PS2, although I tried it on the PC, Xbox 360.
Y: FFXI was optimized for the PS2 first then transferred over to the PC. FFXIV was developed so it can be played on any hardware, it was developed with a switch method, depending on the hardware type we can turn on many switches, which will make it beautiful, but it’ll also make it heavy. If you turn the switches off, it will run on low spec machines. This is due to difference in how it was planned for the structure. For the PS4 version this time we have almost everything switched on, so I don’t think there isn’t anything that’s good on the PS3 which has lots of switches turned off. But that’s due to the difference in hardware.
GW: PS4 versions beta test is starting finally on 2/22, are you going to open new servers?
Y: At phase 1 stage, we are going to open up several worlds set specifically for the beta test in Japan.
GW: So these are just test servers, and not actual servers for release?
Y: Yes, these are test servers for the PS4. From phase 2 we will start placing new worlds for the NA/EU DC and Japan DC.
*DC - Data Center
GW: Are you going to move over those several test servers into the real servers?
Y: No, we’re going to wipe the data there so that will be different, but we will probably keep the world names and the test server names.
GW: So that’s going to be the new servers aimed for the PS4 version?
Y: We’ll have to see how successful the beta goes, but we are planning to add at least 2 new worlds for each individual DC. For the PC version we are also going to start sale on Steam soon, so I believe we’ll see more player increase.
GW: Is there anything different with the Steam version compared to the PC version?
Y: No, you can use Steam wallet to make payments, that’s about it.
GW: When will the Steam version start sale?
Y: We are not sure yet. We are finalizing the date, but we’re planning in mid February.
GW: It will support all 4 languages?
Y: Yes. For Japan, not much people know about Steam yet, however there are about 55,000,000 members.
GW: There will be not only the regular version but the collectors edition as well?
Y: Yes. For Steam it’s digital only, so it will be the digital download version.
GW: Can the current existing players transfer over their macro’s and hotbars to the PS4?
Y: We are planning to use the feature SE is preparing for transferring the macro’s and local saved data to PS4, using that it looks like it will be possible. Not sure if it will be available by the official release timing, we’re fighting against the clock. However transferring from the PC version to the PS4 isn’t so easy, as the file types are different, and also there are regulations. The best option would be to prepare a server for this and save it there and be able to read it from any platforms, however that will require couple millions in investment...... We are going through trial and errors using the previous FFXIV’s The Lodestone server machine.
GW: For the PS4 version, how will you support it globaly?
Y: For global we currently support, Japanese, English, French, German language, and PS4 is planned or already released in those regions so we are going to support that directly for the PS4 version.
Next for China, it will be basically for PC only. Right now there are talks about how the PS4 may be releasing in China, when that is decided and if SCE wants to we can start going into that direction a little. Aside from the current four languages, we are planning to first start wit the PC. We are looking at the PS4 sales in Australia and noticed the console market in Australia is pretty big. And there are lots of FFXIV players from Australia as well, so I think it would be nice to be able to do some PR there.
GW: I was in Taiwan till last week, but there were lots of people requesting for FFXIV service in Taiwan. Taiwan is also listed up for one of the planned region, but are you planning to go through a publisher or is SCET going to provide the service?
Y: For Taiwan we have several talks going, we are going to go through a publisher.
GW: Can we expect that coming soon?
Y: If the talks goes through it might be quick. There is also the option to get the Taiwan put in along with the China’s one.
GW: By that, do you mean to have Shanda to provide service for Taiwan as well?
Y: For example, it’s much better doing at same time than starting from zero. I believe there are many options for this.
GW: The Chinese version that is planned for Shanda’s release, is this for both traditional Chinese characters and simplified Chinese characters?
Y: It will only be for simplified Chinese characters. If we put in traditional Chinese characters, there is no meaning to adding service to Taiwan.
GW: Personally I was curious about the Mac version from today’s presentation. I believe this was the first time you mentioned about the Mac version. How much can we expect for that happening?
Y: Right now it’s still at a level where I’m joking about it to the development team (laugh).
GW: You’re saying that now, but in actual you guys are secretly working on it?
Y: No (laugh)
GW: You sure?
Y: Within the development team there are talks like “Why aren’t we going to do Xbox One?”. Just like how we said that as long as Xbox doesn’t change their closed network policy it’s going to be hard. It’s same here, Mac’s demands are pretty big, right now I’m just mumbling to myself “I want Mac version”, that’s about it for now (laugh).
GW: I would like to see it happen, but doesn’t look like it’s something that’s going to happen this year.
Y: That’s not possible. Sadly, we don’t have any margin in the current development line.
GW: For PC version players there is a big rival now called the PS4 so, we want to know when the DirectX 11 version will be out.
Y: Once we address the DX11, if it works we’ll probably address DX11 on the PS4 as well.
GW: You can do something like that?
Y: It’s possible through update. But not sure if it’s going to be heavy, or if it can be applied for the MMORPG, it will depend on that. As for the PC version, I believe we will separate the clients.
GW: So by releasing the DX11 version, PS4’s graphics will also improve?
Y: First we’re going to go full on with the PC version, we’ll address as much as we can for the PS4.
GW: Knowing that the image may get some improvement in the future, gives motivation to purchase the PS4 version.
Y: As I mentioned in todays presentation, for example just like the wet effect. For FFXIV we have a graphics specialist team, they are always trying to find ways to improve the graphics, they stare at the forum thinking about this all the time (laugh).
GW: Knowing the possibility of graphic improvement for the PS4 is good. Thinking of the possibilities of improvement it’s good to recommend the PS4 version.
Y: I believe so. but you have to understand that because the hardware is fix it’s easy to optimize but at the same time it will hit a limit at some point. Because of that, when we add something we need to sacrifice something else, we have to add and take away to work.
As for the PC version you can just swap out the graphic board, memory, CPU and it’ll be possible to do a lot, but for the PS4 it’s a fixed hardware, so for example if we are going to increase the reflections we have to choose what to add the reflections on. Like there will be reflections on water but have to make it where it doesn’t reflect on glass, it’s possible to turn it on for both, but that will drop the frame rate. The interface is rendered separately so the UI’s response won’t drop but the rendering may get affected. But this is just simply talking about if and when we try to greatly increase the graphics quality.
(Continued to second half)
[end of part 1]
GW: Going to ask couple questions regarding patch 2.1. This large scale update was implemented in December but what was the reaction, also if there was anything you wish you had done differently?
Y: If we go over the parts that should of been done differently, there is too much, but the worst was the amount of F.A.T.E. occurrence right after the release. I apologize. I have instructed earlier to increase the occurrence but that fix wasn’t placed so it shocked me. Right after the patch I went to do the beastmen dailies and people were shouting “Yoshidaaaa” in Thalanan...... People wrote “Was patch 2.1 supposed to be a game where we wait for F.A.T.E.s?” It was really that, and I am very sorry.
GW: That’s why it was fixed immediately through hotfix?
Y: Yes . I really got angry for this one, said “Why isn’t the fix I instructed to put in not in?”
GW: Did the developer in charge forgot due to being so busy?
Y: No, this is a large scale project, so my instructions isn’t specific to one individual, it’s managed through a list, so it’s not where I ask someone to “fix this one” but each individual team in charge checks the list and make those adjustments, everyone was thinking that someone probably already addressed it.
I went up to the team in charge and told them “I’m up to my limit this time, check out all the Yoshida shouts in Thalanan!” then at that same timing Odin popped and there were players all by Odin shouting “We can see!, We can see!” so the the person in charge said these people are shouting “God Yoshida”, so I replied back “It’s supposed to be where you can see it from the first place, forget that and do something about this!” (bitter smile) . That was the start of the patch, and I even had instructed to fix it before hand and that happened so it really hurt, the first impression is really big, again I’m really sorry.
GW: Regarding patch 2.1’s content, personally I liked Crystal Tower. The difficulty was just right and it had was fun to play, the BGM was also done well and thought it was an amazing content.
Y: I really think it was worth it to make the adjustments before releasing.
GW: How was it originally, was it much harder?
Y: It was hard. You’ll probably end up wiping on the first room to the left more than 5, 6 times. (laugh).
GW: Was the individual mobs a lot stronger?
Y: No, the gimmick used was hard. You know how there is the section where it separates into 3 sections by A, B, C and you need to have people standing on the platform to remove barrier from other team, so they can hit? Almost everything was like that. And we said that’s impossible, if one team can’t output enough DPS it wiped everyone and was way too hard.
GW: I think the current difficulty is just right. If you don’t have any strategy it’s not going to work, but if you have just enough communication you can get it done, I think it’s set just about right.
Y: For example, for Behemoth if you have at least one comet up everyone can survive, but if everything breaks everyone runs around crazy when they see Behemoth roar for the meteor and finding out that there isn’t any comet up. It was just right where everyone was just laughing about it.
GW: Are you going to keep Crystal Tower’s difficulty same?
Y: We’ll go with about that much difficulty.
GW: On the other hand the Extreme mode primals and Bahamut’s Coil is really hard. Also Moggle Mog’s difficulty was adjusted, on top of that you mentioned to ease the difficulty for Sirius. What are you basing to decide to ease or maintain the difficulty?
Y: For the extreme primals, it’s set to our ideal difficulty. Bahamut was supposed to be much harder, but I’m amazed at the players breaking through them. As for Moggle Mog, that one was related to main story and was too hard for it.
GW: But Moggle Mog’s difficulty was lower than extreme or Bahamut. So you thought since it’s part of the main story it had to be little bit easier for Moggle Mog?
Y: Yes, I think it can’t be hard. It requires 8 players so it needs to be much easier. Even when looking at the data, there were lots of people stuck on it. For players that already progressed in gears doesn’t really need the rewards, so it was hard for good players to help out others. We made it too hard for the kill order.
GW: I see. Can you please tell us how you think about the battle balance, if there is any reason behind the difficulty structure.
Y: I’m not thinking about this alone, when the battle team gives a new idea for a content, first we check the concept, and if the steps are too complicated, or if there are too many steps, I look over everything and tell them “we don’t need something like this at this timing”. But for most that have been released, we are making adjustments after it being released.
Once we get it temporarily finished, the battle team try it out themselves and when they decide it’s too much they make the changes themselves. In the end I get inside with them and we try out different gears and make the final adjustments. Battle team members are pretty logical, I’m also same, but we tend to like battles where once we know the logic the battle being stable. Then when you think about Sirius’s boss, even if you knew the logic, there was many features where it didn’t make it stable due to mobs health or amount of mobs, and I think it was bit too hard.
GW: You mention that Sirius was too hard, but for new dungeons that are planned for release in every patch, like this Sirius and hard dungeons, how is the difficulty set when making these?
Y: We think of these as place where you can farm.
GW: So it’s somewhere you can go once a day without worrying too much?
Y: For example if there are drop items, there is gil, and if it’s for second character, you can use the gear drops from there, also it’s one of the options for collecting Allagan Tomestones so it’s set up to be used with the Duty Finder. You can match through Duty Finder and as long as you know, understand the strategy you can run through them without much trouble, at start it’ll take about 40 minutes but once you get used to it you can run through them in about 20-25 minutes, we have it set so it takes about an average of 30 minutes.
So when you go with that, the boss difficulty for Sirius was too hard. The hard part was that the healers needed to constantly keep everyone HP topped off or they will get charmed and couldn’t control, it was hard to tell it as well. Then you got the trash mobs and the boss charging through at the same time, all of this coming at the same timing so for that one it brought out the bad personality for the person who was in charge of that dungeon (laugh). For that place if you take away the amount of waves, and lower the hit points on the trash mobs, and take away where it stacks, it should get much easier.
For Sirius’s boss, you had to clear every step to clear the boss, and there wasn’t much freedom. When you compare that to the amount of tomestones you can obtain, and amount of time it needed for clear, it was too much, the logic is there and it’s good, but there was a mis-match between the dungeons goal and difficulty.
GW: But when you compare Extreme Primals and Bahamut, those are nothing near Sirius.
Y: Well the rewards you can get from there are much bigger, so it’s set that way.
GW: I see, so that’s how you’re thinking.
Y: Yes. We are making it to match the reward. For example the extreme primal series is made into quest form, by defeating all 3 you can obtain a ilvl90 weapon. On top of that you can choose any ilvl90 weapon you want, and you can do this every week just by defeating those 3, the reward can be chosen for this content. That’s why it’s set to be difficult.
GW: So you don’t want new players to easily clear Extreme modes then.
Y: Yes. That’s why we stacked many logics, and there is theme set to it. For example for Garuda extreme, you need to position Garuda, Suparna, Chirada correctly, on top of that if Suparna and Chirada is too close to each other it puts a buff and makes it hard to defeat, so you need to separate everyone's roles, and to mitigate Chirada’s damage you need to share the damage with all the DPS, stuff like that.
For Garuda extreme, the theme is to split the roles, where you split into 3 sections to fight, and you have to also divide the damage among everyone. But once you finish that phase, you gather in center and just say “We passed the split phase, just 2 more times!” something like that.
For Titan extreme, if you can remember the patterns, you can clear without any miss, so it’s something similar to a shooting game, however, if the DPS is too high, the pattern may change and it’ll make it scary. (laugh)
For Ifrit extreme, until now healers didn’t get really involved in the gimmicks needs to think about their standing positions and the two healers need to cooperate together to beat it. At same time for DPS, they need to concentrate and get enough DPS out or they won’t be able to break the nails. That part splits the roles, but we changed stuff around there. Ifrit extreme mode is where everyone needs to do their best for their roles.
As for tanks, we put in a concept where tank switch is needed, so we’ll probably use that later on as well.
GW: Since it’s “idea” difficulty, there are no plans to change the difficulty in future for extreme primals and bahamut?
Y: There isn’t. We have no plans to change the difficulty of the gimmick itself, as more patches are released, it’s set so that it’ll ease with the “echo” buff.
GW: Regarding that “Echo”, this occurred in the quests too. If you die couple times the buff is placed and it increases the characters base stats making it easier. How much buff are the players going to get with the “echo” buff post level 50?
Y: Stuff like 25% Damage Cut, or Everyone gets 25% HP boost, extremely talking it’s stuff like that. That “Echo” buff is being developed right now aiming for patch 2.2. There will be contents that will have this applied and those that won’t have.
GW: Which contents are you planning to apply this to?
Y: First we’re talking about getting this in for all the hard mode primal battles, for Bahamut’s coil, we are planning a raid specific “Echo”. At the timing for 2.2 release it won’t be applied, but one week after the patch release, there will be a +10% bonus, 2nd week will have +20%, 3rd week.... as the weeks go by the players will get stronger and will get easier to win.
GW: Is this for all the Bahamut’s Coil turns?
Y: This is for turn 1-5.
GW: So this won’t be applied to the brand new content?
Y: We won’t put it on the brand new contents. Reason why is because those will be the hardest difficulty, so the players who were playing at a slower pace now have higher item levels, and becomes relatively strong. At same time the content difficulty gradually increases, and those contents which they felt can’t be cleared can be cleared with the stronger gear they obtained along with the “Echo” buff, it’s set up so it can be cleared little by little.
GW: I see, so even those contents which can’t be cleared right now because of the difficulty, or those people who can’t participate because they don’t have enough item levels will be able to do so by waiting just a bit longer.
Y: This is the part I have been saying all this time about “don’t have to be in a hurry”. Along with the item level increase, the contents will start becoming easier.
GW: For an old gamer like me who doesn’t have enough play time, and not being able to participate in end contents, these type of adjustments is really nice (laugh).
Y: There are many others that are looking forward to this. It won’t apply for the newest end content but for those who are one step behind, they can feel that “it’s getting eased, so I should go check it out?” that’s the flow we’re expecting. For “Echo” buffs there are that will be applied when you wipe, and those that will be applied to everyone from the beginning of the content. If you don’t want to use the “Echo” buff, it’s possible to turn off the buff yourself.
GW: Also, right now in Bahamut’s Coil turn 2, lots of people are using a method where you make the bosses timer run out to fight, are these type of tricky strategies allowed?
Y: At current timing, it’s allowed. If that strategy is easy then sure. I’m amazed how they came up with that idea (laugh). Because everyones gears are stronger than what we imagined this strategy works. Up till turn 3, we made it where you can have weapon item level at 90 and rest of the gear being item level 70 and barely win. Now that everyone is overpowered with more HP, with higher DPS and heals, they can ignore the enrage (aoe attack) to force clear.
GW: Going back to 2.1’s job balance, how do you feel about it right now? Do you think it needs to be modified some more? Or is it turning up just right?
Y: Yes. For balance purpose I’m telling them to hurry up and fix the fairy bug.
GW: You haven't mentioned this at all in the previous interview, but in patch 2.1 Black Mage gotten weaker right?
Y: Yes, right now Black Mage is bit weak, but if I say “Black Mage is weak” people are going to say there is going to be a buff so (laugh). But it’s not like we wanted to make it weak, it’s set to what what it should’ve been. If you think of Black Mage as a utility, it’s well balanced. It has both offensive and defensive skills, you have walls and magic barriers. During the Osaka F.A.T.E. even without any accessories Black Mage was still doing top DPS, I think it’s just about right. For Summoners and Monk DPS, if the person that can bring out the DPS plays it, it’s really amazing (laugh). If you compare it to that then sure the DPS will be lower, but I think it’s about right.
GW: You mentioned you’re going to adjust the job balance with every patch, but what kind of adjustments are you planning for 2.2?
Y: Right now we don’t have anything specific that needs to be done.
GW: So in patch 2.2’s job adjustment, it’s just fixing the Fairy’s behavior?
Y: Yes. we need to fix that fast as it has a big effect. We have been putting lots of balancing recently for the PvP. Other than that, right now there isn’t much where we need to fix or it’s going to be trouble. Unless the battle team has some changes for 2.2 and haven’t brought it up to me yet.
GW: In patch 2.15 it was mainly adjustments related to PvP.
Y: I think with the last 2.15 patch, it spread it out. There is one staff that’s always doing Wolves’ Den but if you watch that staff he plays in different variety, says the WHM is now strong. We’ll continue to observe the situation, and we’re going to put in rating match in patch 2.2.
GW: What kind of regulations will the rating system have?
Y: Right now we’re looking into what to split the entrance. But we’re going to make adjustments so those who just started PvP won’t get matched up with those who has tons of points already. Top ranking players with Dire gear is too strong, so we’re going to make it where players can get that at lower rank and make it where they’ll gradually get stronger. We’ve put in detailed changes here, so we’re planning to explain this in the next live letter or at the timing when we read the patch notes.
GW: One thing that got on my mind regarding jobs is where you mentioned in the earlier presentation was that with expansion pack, there might be new actions. If say Summoners are getting Leviathan summon, what are other jobs getting?
Y: We’re increasing the level cap, so you’ll for sure get 2, 3 skills.
GW: Oh, not only one but several. What kind of things are you looking into?
Y: Nothing yet (laugh), not only actions, but I’m sure there will be new class and job.
GW: For a MMORPG that has item level, what are you going to do as the level cap increases?
Y: From beginning it’s already balanced out so the characters strength is set to one number and item level set to another. Character strength being 50, and item strength being 50, or character strength at 60 and item strength at 40. So if the level cap is increased, it will just increase the character's level.
GW: Is it ok to think that the characters base stats is going to increase, along with additional job specific actions?
GW: So the ilvl 95 Alagan weapons and relics, those rare gears we have now won’t become trash gear?
Y: Yes. That’s why if the item level increases there will be other stronger weapons.
(This part, it makes no sense... if ilvl increases, lower ilvl gear will get weak... it won’t get weaker than it’s own ilvl gear but will be weaker than new higher ilvl gear so... I guess Game Watch & YoshiP is looking at it from a different perspective.)
GW: You mentioned the item level will continue to increase, how much increase can we expect for every patch or each expansion pack?
Y: I can’t answer this yet. By guessing wrong it will affect the economy and players motivation, so just like most other MMO’s we won’t announce anything beforehand.
GW: By the way, how did you feel about the Osaka’s fan event?
Y: Honestly speaking, it was fun just as always. Was able to talk to all the customers, and was able to take pictures with everyone. I don’t think I missed to talk to anyone. There may of been some that didn’t want to talk to me though (laugh).
GW: Did anyone say something harsh?
Y: Not really, was stuff like “housing is too expensive~”, that’s about it.
GW: Everyone is too nice (laugh)
Y: Yes. (laugh).
GW: No one mentioned “you secretly nerfed Black Mage.”?
Y: I’ve been saying from before Black Mage isn’t that strong, so I think everyone understands that. That’s why I think on the internet everyone likes to get hyped up or use me as a reason to enjoy.
For us, in the end we look at it not as players, but as a developer and we think about products life span, at same time we are thinking about players life cycle. For example, with MMORPG, with new genre data, one person will continue to play an average of about 100 days. At one point people used to say that was 9 month or 6 month, but right now it’s short as much as 3 month. That’s how much the players aren’t fixed to one game in current era. We have to think about those, and think of overall designs and the timing items are obtained, and how much time required to clear one content. To be honest, I was really worried about the first 3 month. The 3rd month is really scary, but thanks to everyone, it kept it’s pace and we were able to break through.
I understand there are people dissatisfied, but that’s because we are thinking about the product lifespan and thinking about how to keep everyone to play long term, we have to think from develops, producers, operations viewpoint. I’m a player as well, and there are times I feel like saying “grr” and so I know how everyone will feel unhappy for some parts. But when I meet everyone, lots of people cheers us and tells us that they are enjoying, so I’m hoping people understand the situation.
GW: With that said, do you acknowledge that you’re getting lots of players support?
Y: Not going to get conceited about it. But what I thought was interesting was before the producer letter live, everyone is abusive, but once it starts everyone is like “Yoshidaaa!” and everyone’s having fun, so I just think of it as a big party.
GW: At the Osaka event Takai-san came on as guest, was there a reason behind why you chose Takai-san?
Y: More like I was looking at Dragon Quest X’s live broadcast, and the director at that time had a small section in the live where they mention the update. It was really minor stuff but everyone was excited about that one, since those minor fixes were getting attentions it helped the developers morale. I felt that, that was nice and we have lots of new customers since ARR and up until now I was doing most on my own, and we have been getting more requests where they want to hear from someone other than YoshiP.
And since we’re going to go around different regions, instead of going with the same people every time, we thought it’ll be nice if we take a guest and be able to talk about different kind of things. I can’t say stuff like “I couldn’t see the effect, so I fixed it myself without telling anyone” (laugh)
GW: So we’re going to have a different guest in future?
Y: Right now we’re planning to have one guest in every F.A.T.E. event.
GW: As a previous FFXIV player I would like to see Komoto-san.
Y: I think we can get Komoto soon.
GW: Like in the next Sapporo event.
Y: That’ll be interesting, but might end up saying Ramen, Ramen (laugh).
GW: Lastly please give a comment for those players looking forward to the PS4 version.
Y: Square-Enix is known to not release new titles when new hardware is released, however this time we took the front row, and we’re going to release the newest Final Fantasy series. Although it being PS4 launch title, we believe the game has high quality and performance, and good amount of gameplay. For those that purchased the PS4 on 2/22, please try it out thinking of it as PS4’s benchmark software.
It’s fine just play it while checking how much specs the PS4 has. We want everyone to try it out and see how amazing the specs are, or also feel how much household gaming has changed. Other than that we want everyone to try the remote play, and see how the gaming experience will change.
I would appreciate if you can also see how much FFXIV:ARR itself being appealing. You can do many things, I really have confidence to be able to deliver this title. If you participate in the beta test, please buy it and play it just like how you would play a regular RPG title, that should be good.
For those playing the PS3 version, if you are thinking about purchasing the PS4, there is no demerit for the PS4 version, it only has merits, so please try it and feel the difference, how detailed Eorzea is and enjoy!
Thank you very much.
[end of PT2]
"A vaincre sans périls, on triomphe sans gloire..."
Corneille"...j'étais venue jusqu'ici pour bouffer du Buble Gum et en cogner quelques uns... et comme j'ai plus de Buble Gum..."
John Nada in John Carpenter's They Live.