Final Fantasy XIV's Yoshida on housing, test servers, and post-Fanfest

Two Massively employees in the same game at once?  The world is madness.  (No, you get no hints about who.)

Final Fantasy XIV has had a busy year, and it looks to be having a busy next year to boot. The game's first expansion is in the works and planned for a release in spring of 2015, along with another major patch to cap off the game's current patch cycle. And director/producer Naoki Yoshida continues steering the ship, working what I can only assume is a 200-hour week.

I had a chance to ask a few questions of Yoshida around the time of the first two fanfests of the year (the final one is scheduled for December in Tokyo), ranging from housing questions to the promise of public test servers to how hard it will be to establish an Eternal Bond. Jump on past the break to read the full interview!

My four acres and a chocobo, bird not pictured.

Massively: After the option to purchase land as an individual was added in patch 2.38, many players were hurt at the high prices, even for individuals with a large amount of gil, and the general lack of availability of land. While the wards are expected to double in size, even that amount places housing out of reach for many players. Are there plans to continue adding more land over time, or are there other options planned for players who want housing space beyond simply a private room in a free company house?

Naoki Yoshida: Patch 2.4 has been released, and many players have purchased their personal house and are enjoying their housing space. We are constantly monitoring how much land is being sold; we still have not run out of plots, and I'm sure there are people waiting for the pricing of land to become cheaper. I believe we are able to accommodate for the land demand for now. If we are ever unable to provide because a drop in price causes a very high demand for land, we intend to add more housing servers so that we can add more plots. There's also an option to consider a condominium-style housing system, but we would have to monitor the demands for a while, and we need to be very careful in considering this.

Are there any plans to implement a public test server for patch content?

Infrastructure-wise, we have the system in place to make a test server public. However, if we were to set up a test server, we'd have to make sure to hide all "spoiler" content, which would in turn push back the major updates schedule by about a month.

A Realm Reborn has been in service for only about one year, so instead of implementing a test server, we have put priority on bringing major updates to our players as quickly as possible. In the future, we would like to find a way to shorten such delays and make it a reality.

When the Eternal Bond system is implemented, how long will it take two players to successfully join their characters? Are there plans to make this an exclusively high-level activity?

It should not take much time at all. What will probably take the most time is selecting what kind of ceremony you want, the color of the carpet and decorations, the type of ceremony, the date, sending the invitations, and inviting your friends to join you in the occasion. Also, to avoid RMT and players that may abuse the free trial version, we will set some limitations on who can have a ceremony, such as being an active player with a monthly subscription who is at a certain level. But we won't mandate the player to have completed super-high-level content, like obtaining a Bahamut drop item, so please rest assured.

Spoiler warnings: villains remain villainous.

Is there a reason why new players cannot start as a Rogue? Will this restriction be changed in the future as new classes and jobs become available?

Final Fantasy XIV places a heavy emphasis on the story, and with the addition of new elements such as this, we would've had to change a lot of the introduction sequences, so we decided that it would not be available right from the start. That being said, if any of your character's classes is at level 10, you can unlock the rogue class, so you can say it is basically available near the beginning. Moving forward, we will do our best not to place strict conditions on selecting a class or job, but if you want to play the new jobs that will be added in Heavensward, you will have to have purchased the expansion. Of course, even if you don't have the expansion disc, you can at least see these new jobs or join a party with them.

Do the linguistic barriers involved in running Final Fantasy XIV make addressing the global audience more difficult? Do American, Japanese, and European players tend to bring up the same concerns, or do you find yourself generally getting praise or complaints about the same issues worldwide?

No, it does not. Because we are operating the game globally, we have Community Teams in each region who speak and understand the local languages, and they relay precise feedback to the development team on a daily basis. Also, regardless of language, there are many player requests that are common across all of the regions, to which we have appropriately responded. However, new ideas that are presented are as numerous as there are players in Eorzea, and in that instance we see the difference in the locales, which I find very interesting, and I read up on them with fascination.

Each new set of dungeons has featured a variety of armor pieces that many players want for glamour purposes; at the same time, several of the dungeons have also featured crafting materials that frequently drop instead of these pieces of armor (Aqueous Whetstones, Coke, Cooking Sherry, etc). Will anything be done to address this demand by players? Will the new dungeons also feature drops that are not armor?

We have received this feedback from around the world, so we are already making our adjustments in Patch 2.4. We will continue to read up on the feedback we receive and make necessary adjustments in the future as well!

Are there any plans to make Morale a worthwhile stat in Frontlines?

Frontline is developed with the intent of being a fair and more casual PvP, and so the morale stat is never going to be a heavy focus. We do have plans to update Frontline in the future, but the same rule will apply. As we update Frontline, more PvP-ers join the fray, and PvP becomes more established, then we will update Wolves' Den, where the morale stat is put to good use, and make it into a more hardcore arena style of content.

In the future, should players expect to see new jobs and/or classes between expansions?

We are still applying all of our efforts to the release of all of the new jobs in Heavensward, so whether or not we add more jobs after that is still undetermined. For the time being, please look forward to the new jobs yet to be revealed for Heavensward!

Will the rewards for Hunts still be relevant moving into 2.4? Will anything new be added to the vendors, or will they remain as-is?

With Patch 2.4, the cap on item level will be released and new raids will be added, so the Hunt content will remain as-is for now. The Hunt will probably get more attention during Patch 2.5 and beyond.

I still think this was a missed opportunity for BoJack Horseman cosplay, but the show didn't exist when this came out, so it's understandable.

What piece of content implemented in the first year of operation for the game do you feel was implemented poorly? Was there a given system or set of systems that wound up being detrimental to a large portion of the playerbase?

There were a few parts that were unexpected, but I believe we were able to make adjustments based on the players' diligent feedback to reach where we are now. I really appreciate all of the players! This may or may not be considered detrimental, but we did receive lots of feedback from players around the world on housing issues during Patch 2.1. We had to make adjustments to address the economical gap between legacy players and those who started with ARR, and it was a very hard choice to make. Even looking back on it now, I think it was a very major decision.

Content requiring FATEs in general, especially specific FATEs, has been met with a great deal of consternation by the players. While spawn times on FATEs required for quests has been greatly shortened, players attempting to clear out daily hunts frequently wind up sitting and waiting for extended periods of time? Will anything be done to improve this? How have these reactions affected content in development and future plans for the game?

Because FATEs affect other FATEs that occur nearby, we took into consideration all of your feedback and adjusted the interval of the FATEs for the Zodiac Weapon creation. With regard to the Hunt, because FFXIV is an MMORPG, an element of "the player not being in full control to some extent" was necessary, so this game mechanic involves elements of "time" and "chance." Instances that take way too long to occur have been adjusted individually, but because the Hunt requires spending your time and chance for the player to strengthen themselves, I can't guarantee that FATEs will not be involved at all. Of course, we take all feedback into consideration.

Lastly, what has been your proudest moment over the time spent working with the game to date, with just over a year since the successful relaunch?

The fact that so many people around the world are playing the game. And, the fact that we can continue to provide major updates while working on the expansion. Please look forward to the ever-expanding world of Eorzea! And above all, thank you so very much for your encouragement, support and feedback!

Thank you for your time and answers.

When readers want the scoop on a launch or a patch (or even a brewing fiasco), Massively goes right to the source to interview the developers themselves. Be they John Smedley or Chris Roberts or anyone in between, we ask the devs the hard questions. Of course, whether they tell us the truth or not is up to them!