Final Fantasy XIV Overhaul: “The Community is Really Rooting for Us”
Final Fantasy XIV Producer Naoki Yoshida came onto the project in the last three months, hoping to save the game from what has so far been a complete disaster. The game was released with an anemic volume of content. Bored and upset, many fans quickly went back to playing Final Fantasy XI. Final Fantasy XIV's first free month has been extended indefinitely in an effort by Square Enix to show they're serious about improving the game.
Yoshida, in an interview with Gamasutra, discussed the challenges facing the team, the reaction of the community, and their planned changes to the game. “XIV had many issues. There was technology trouble, in-game trouble. The game at the time of release did not live up to expectations that players had of current generation MMOs,” he said. “Square Enix wasn't working close enough with their user base.”
Yoshida was brought onto the project for his talent as a developer as well as his experience with MMOs. His perspective, and the new direction for the team, is to create a dialogue between the team and the fans. Their first big step was a survey that asked for feedback on what could be massive overhauls to the game. Everyone seems to agree on the battle system. “I personally believe that the battle should be something where you get with friends, you talk over how you're going to fight this battle, doing all the tactics and the strategies. And right now, this really can't be done in the battle system that currently exists,” Yoshida explained. “A 70 percent change might be necessary to get it to something that I envision as a cool battle system.”
Improving the game will take some time, but Yoshida says the community has responded positively so far. “The biggest thing that we've seen is the community is really rooting for us. They seem to have accepted this change and are hoping that it's moving the project in the right direction.”
As for exactly how long it will take for XIV to get these overhauls, Yoshida lays out a basic plan: “We've split it into two parts. We have our long-term plan, where I have a lot of ideas for things I want to do far in the future. But then again, of course, you have the development cost and like time of the developers. And so you have to have a short-term plan as well, and these short-term plans of maybe two to three month spans, where you have your short-term goals. And achieving these is important.”
The result of all these changes is that you can expect to play Final Fantasy XIV for free for at least a bit longer. “I wanted to make sure that I would only ask the player to pay for something that once I could say, 'Okay, we have this planned, and we're going to do this. This is what we're going to do, so this is the point where we can actually ask you for money.' Without that, I personally, as a player, wouldn't feel good about asking the player to pay money without that information.”
The game could be headed for greener pastures. More than anything, the efforts by Square Enix and Yoshida show they plan to do right by their fanbase. Here's hoping they can pull it off.