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Our interview with Final Fantasy XIV's Naoki Yoshida, part 2

Eliot Lefebvre

Harnesses are apparently appropriate battle wear despite leaving your vital organs unarmored.  I don't know either.Massively: Will the jobs that are previewed going to be linked to specific classes, or will they be somewhat more flexible?

Naoki Yoshida: To answer that question, we're just going to go into a little bit of an explanation of this job system. Let's say you're looking to become a Paladin and unlock the job. What we're planning is that you can get your Gladiator to level 30 and you also get your Marauder to level 15 -- and please note that these numbers are not set in stone. When both conditions have been met, you can unlock a quest, which you can accept to unlock the Paladin job.

Once that class is unlocked, you will earn a job stone (again, not necessarily the final name). When you equip that, you can change your class into the Paladin job. Beyond the level 30 quest through which you get the job stone, there will also be quests at, say, levels 35, 40, 45, and 50 -- just as an example -- that deliver you the story of the Paladin job.

The level of the jobs will always be connected with the base class, so by earning experience as a Gladiator, you will make your Paladin stronger, and any experience earned as a Paladin will go toward your Gladiator experience. There's no necessity to go and raise your Paladin separately from your Gladiator. However, there will be job-specific weapons and armor, and to unlock these, you'll need to do the quests after unlocking the jobs. Similarly, weaponskills and abilities won't be earned through levels but by doing those quests. Experience is how you improve your classes, but the quest chains are how you improve your jobs.

Obviously, the question is what's different between a class and a job. After discussing with the battle team how we wanted to do this, we decided that for light parties and casual play, we wanted players using the class system where you can freely mix and match abilities to make an all-around type of character. Jobs we want to make more specialized, like you see in a lot of other MMOs, such as where the Paladin would be designed as a tank. They have special abilities to defend other party members, and while attack power might be lower, they'll have abilities that will enhance defense and allow them to play a certain role in their party.

Of course, during this job system, to make sure that the job is specialized, there won't be as much freedom in using abilities of other classes. Players will be able to play a specific role, and with that they'll be able to know their roles in high-end battles that require more tactics and a more specific type of playstyle, rather than solo battles, which are more open and where we'd rather have players be using the class system to meet a more flexible style.

The best way of thinking about it is probably two different modes of character fighting style depending on what type of content you'll be playing.

Merlwyb is basically a list of things you can't currently have.Limsa Lominsa clearly has two guilds for classes that are not currently in the game -- the Arcanists who work on the docks and the Musketeers that make up the Knights of the Barracuda. These guilds and classes are referenced in quests but are not accessible by players. Are they still on the table for inclusion, or have they been moved off of the development schedule?

Because I got on to the project in last December after a lot of decisions had already been made, there was the decision on the table to bring those two classes in after launch. However, once I got on to the project, it was my job to re-assess the situation, and we decided that rather than bring in something just because it was there, it was more important to look at what the game needed and bring that in instead.

If you look at the game right now, the balance is more toward physical attack classes with very few caster classes. Looking at MMOs, we realize that this is not a good balance to have, so the first thing that we're going to be doing after introducing the job system is probably introduce another caster class because that's what the game needs. We realize that currently, the game is lacking in a lot of crowd control type of spells, and we need these to make battles more strategic. To introduce these types of spells, we think one obvious way is to introduce a new caster class that's able to handle them.

However, concerning the Musketeer class: It happens to be that just yesterday I was doing a Japanese interview and that same subject came up. Some day we really do want to get these sorts of Musketeer classes into the game because we think this is really interesting. It's not like we've cancelled it altogether; it's just that we needed to prioritize.

Gladiators have always had the ability to be the best-looking class.There's been talk about giving Gladiators more offensive abilities or the ability to dual-wield. Can you give us any more information about that?

Good news! In version 1.20, we have major adjustments planned for every class, adjustments that will change a lot of specs on abilities and weapon skills. For example, when it comes to damage dealing, we're planning on introducing what we're tentatively calling a self-combo, whereby solo players can tie together a bunch of different weaponskills or attacks to deal extra damage. These things will help make even defensive players more powerful in addition to helping straight attackers like Archers. We have all of these changes planned for 1.20, but we're going to make sure to get all of that information out to players beforehand so they can see all of the changes we're planning and then give us feedback about any further changes we need to make before the patch releases.

Disciples of the Land definitely got a boost with the addition of the Materia system. Are further improvements and upgrades planned for the gathering classes to make them more attractive to players?

We believe that with 1.19, we've finally provided a system for both gatherers and crafters in that if you put in your work, day by day, it's feasible for someone to get from level 1 to 50. From there, reading the market and figuring out which items are in demand and which ones are less important comes down to player skill. We feel that we've now got a system, though, that doesn't make it difficult for the player to get up to level 50.

From 1.20 on, the things we're thinking about adding is that endgame-type content, things like having to get a certain rare item and going to a dangerous place to get it or having really high skill to be able to mine or fish a certain item. This high-end content will be implemented from 1.20 on, and just like we did with the adjustments to the other classes, we will always reveal the changes that we have planned to players so that we can get the feedback from players before we implement them.

Also, at 1.20, we are going to be changing the crafting system such that players will be able to change the color of an item after the item has been created. This will also affect gatherers in the sense of collecting the dyes. So that's another way for gatherers to be more involved in the world economy after 1.20.

What do you feel the next top-priority item on the team's agenda?

Without a doubt, the top priority is what we mentioned before: the player search and the improved market search. We're getting that in to 1.20. Beyond that, the next thing would be revamping the UI.

Have you heard about the bird?  Well, Yoshida's gonna tell you about the bird.A lot of interviews have asked about the challenges of working on Final Fantasy XIV. What have been the most rewarding parts of working on the project?

Probably the biggest thing in the past 10 months has been the release of chocobos because I was personally a very big part of planning the whole system, from the size of the birds to the little details like recast timers, whether or not you could be attacked, the background music, the whistle effect...

The development team had come to me and said, "Yoshida, you're way too busy, you shouldn't be doing this, leave this up to the planners," but deciding to do this myself and then seeing the player reaction, seeing how happy the fans were and how well it was received, has been a real boost.

Last but not least, has the development team had trouble keeping up with the pace of patches, since we've been getting a large patch every two or three months over the past year?

Yeah, it's been really difficult. It's probably been most difficult on me because when I start going, I never use breaks, just keep going. We've gotten a lot of worried comments from players saying, "You're going to burn out," but actually, we're doing pretty well. Because it had a lot of content in it, the last patch was tough for a lot of the planners, but a lot of them also came to us and said that they wanted to come in on Saturdays and Sundays because they want to release as much content to the players as possible. We want to get that out because we know the players are looking forward to it, so we didn't really mind coming in on weekends to get things done.

The biggest thing to keep in mind was that it wasn't me telling the team to do extra work; it was the team coming to me and asking for extra work, to make things better for the players, and that made a big impact on me. Yes, because of that extra work, there were people who got a little burned out, but we got through the patch, and a lot of those people are on little short vacations resting up for the next patch.

The schedule that we've laid out is what we're working to meet, and we've had it laid out for a long time, far in advance. That schedule has been made to meet the abilities of our development team, so it's not like we're doing something that's beyond that schedule. Meeting it has not been as difficult as a lot of people have thought, so we're not getting burned out -- this is pretty much what we had planned. So far we've been able to meet this schedule with a lot of success. So don't worry too much about us -- we're making it.

But myself, I'm really tired because I'm always working. (laughs)

We'd like to thank Mr. Yoshida for his detailed responses and taking the time for this interview.

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