Interview with FFXIV’s Tanaka Hiromichi

The Alpha version evolved significantly based on user feedback.
-The version of FFXIV we saw at E3, while not the beta version per se, is very, very close to it.
-The biggest differences between the alpha and beta versions are the remade battle system, the character creation system, and the new shadows.
-The races that were in the beta version will be the races that go live with the game.
-They initially planned on having playable female Highlanders, but for many reasons, they chose to scrap the idea.
-There will be NPC female highlanders, as well as NPC male Miqo’te.
-They can’t promise there will be any new nations (other than Limsa Lominsa, Ul’dah, and Gridania) but say “it’d be nice.”
-The entity in the trailer was not an avatar, but an elemental. Moon phases and weather being a large part of the game isn’t going to happen the way it did with FFXI; instead, everything will be governed by the six elements.

The battle system is much faster-paced.
-The FFXIV team decided that the effect gauge (the curvy part to the left of the bar that you could allow to fill to get a bigger effect) was worth scrapping because of the “empty time” users spent waiting around for it to fill. Instead, they made the action gauge (now called a “stamina gauge”) longer so that it held enough to execute multiple attacks and allowed it to constantly fill over time.
-Actions are governed by Stamina, TP, and sometimes MP.
-There will be different recast timers on various actions. TP moves are designed from the ground up to be limited by both mechanics–they don’t want you to be able to use them repeatedly just because the recast timer is up and you have full stamina, you need the TP as well.
-Some UI adjustments are also in order–the menu has changed significantly to something a little closer to what other MMO veterans are used to. Chat filters have been added as well, and they’re interested in allowing a user to make multiple chat windows.
-There ARE plans for a macro palette system that could be used to trigger an action and a communication to make it easier for your party to see what you’re doing.
-They want to put a system in place that makes it obvious which mob your party leader is attacking, but they haven’t settled on one yet and so can’t tell us what they have in store.
-They want battle regimens to be used and are relying on the aforementioned communication systems (party leader target, macro communication) to make them easier for players to execute.
-Right now in the alpha you’re seeing mostly solo mobs, but there are plans for a lot more party mobs. Most of the things you’ll fight in guildleves will be in parties.

Production, Bazaars, and community systems
-Armor and weapons will degenerate over time to the point where they’re useless and need to be repaired. The producers expect this will push more people to choose Disciples of the Land and Disciples of the Hand. This system will be implemented in the beta.
-“Retainers” are NPCs that you can leave your bazaared items with overnight so they can continue to be sold. Your character won’t be logged in, however there will be a retainer NPC selling your goods in the same manner.
-Linkshells are hoped to play a big part in the community, but it’s unknown when they’ll be introduced to the testing phases. They will be similar to FFXI’s linkshells, but there will be broader community-building tools and “other things” built into them.
-The interviewer asks here whether the “other things” are referring to systems like FFXI’s Conquest system. Tanaka says it’s more like a Company system–multiple linkshells will form a Company. This will be very much like the guilds and clans of other MMOs.
-They don’t think they’ll be adding more areas to the beta. One of the concerns on this note is the client download size. They understand that other areas probably need tested, but there are no current plans to do so.
-It’s not certain how large the final release will be (re: file size).
-Graphics are a big bottleneck in system specs right now. They’re working on optimizing their graphics so the game is playable by a wider range of systems. When the beta begins, specifications will be released.
-Nvidia has been pushing their 3D Surround technology quite hard and SE has decided to cooperate with them. It’s for this reason that FFXIV had a 3D display at E3–as a demo display for Nvidia. (we posted the video, if you missed it!) SE isn’t sure they’re going to include support of this technology in the final game.
-The team is hard at work creating the PS3 version.
-While the PS3 can support 3D, Tanaka feels it would be very hard to implement support for it in FFXIV’s own PS3 release.
-They want the beta test to start no later than sometime in July.
-Soon after the beginning of beta testing, they want to look into opening the servers 24/7 so that the players from the various regions can all play together.
-Initially, the beta testing will only start with the current alpha participants (approximately 50,000). When things get stable, they will add more testers. They also hope alpha testers who have already given up on the game will come back, saying that they’ve listened to their feedback, have improved the game, and will continue to improve the game based on player feedback throughout its testing phases and its retail life.

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