Greetings adventurers! I hope you are all enjoying your time in Eorzea.
Well, after a brief spell of users on Japan's most frequented forum referring to me as "The Duck," I'm happy to say things have settled down and it seems that "Yoshi-P" is the current nickname of choice.
I apologize for the amount of time I've let pass since my last post. Today I'd like to take the time to thank all of you for the overwhelming number of responses we received to our recent FINAL FANTASY XIV Players' Poll the First!
This post marks the beginning of my new Letters from the Producer series, which I will continue to post regularly on the Lodestone up until the launch of our official FINAL FANTASY XIV forums. Together with this first letter, I have also decided to make public the results of the first player poll, as well as include information concerning future plans for the game. The post is a bit lengthy, but I hope you all take the time to read it.
The recent players' poll was available only to users possessing a Square Enix account. We received a large number of completed questionnaires from players in all regions—Japan, North America, and Europe. Here I would like to take some time to go over each of the questions and their responses, and attempt to explain what the results may mean.
1. Which online games have you played before? (Multiple answers accepted)
There is a large amount of data to go over here, so I suggest opening it in "another window" for ease of viewing. The majority of FINAL FANTASY XIV players polled have a history of playing FINAL FANTASY XI, which is a result we here at Square Enix were certainly happy to see. To us, this serves to illustrate the loyalty and passion of FINAL FANTASY fans, and both the development and management teams were truly moved by this result!
This also tells us that the majority of responses to questions dealing with gameplay (from 5 onward) are the opinions of players with experience playing FINAL FANTASY XI. And so it will be operating under that premise that we will be examining the poll responses.
By the way, questions 2 and 4 were included to provide referential data to the management team, and I will not post their results here. Suffice it to say, we are hardly in a position to be providing this kind of useful information to any would-be rivals...^^;
As for the third question, the most common answer was fourteen titles, with roughly 2% of pollees having played over twenty FINAL FANTASY titles. There isn't much to say here other than thank you!
5. How do you spend most of your time in Eorzea? (Choose only one)
|Battle (including levequests and behests)||47.5%||64.2%||65.1%||69.4%||71.8%|
|Gathering (Including levequests)||6.7%||4.9%||5.4%||2.8%||3.9%|
|Synthesis (including levequests)||35.6%||22.9%||20.1%||21.1%||18.3%|
Much as we expected, the vast majority of players are spending most of their play time engaged in battle-oriented content, with synthesis activities coming in second. I cannot help but be concerned over the 4.6% result for socializing. This leads me to believe that in its current state, the game is lacking group-oriented goals and means of communication. Rest assured we will be addressing this issue together with the battle system.
6. What is your biggest expectation for the newly restructured development team?
|An overhaul to fundamental gameplay aspects||73.7%||72.0%||72.6%||67.3%||57.5%|
|An accelerated version update schedule||15.0%||16.6%||16.3%||23.6%||29.9%|
|Increased communication with the players||11.3%||11.4%||11.1%||9.1%||12.6%|
7. Which of the following issues you would like to see addressed first? (Choose only one)
|The Armoury system||6.0%||3.8%||4.0%||1.9%||3.6%|
|The combat system||34.0%||15.3%||16.5%||17.2%||13.3%|
|The user interface||7.4%||9.7%||10.6%||8.9%||6.9%|
|Server response times||6.8%||5.6%||7.4%||9.2%||13.8%|
|The markets system||7.2%||14.4%||11.3%||3.4%||9.3%|
|Lack of in-game content||28.3%||44.5%||41.7%||50.9%||46.8%|
8. Which of the following would you like to see implemented first? (Choose only one)
|More story-based quests/mini-quests||43.7%||37.0%||40.1%||42.2%||39.5%|
|More notorious monsters (NMs)||2.0%||2.1%||1.9%||2.9%||2.7%|
|More levequests (including new varieties)||4.2%||7.3%||7.8%||1.9%||2.8%|
|Player vs. player content (PvP)||4.6%||3.0%||4.2%||3.7%||3.5%|
|Large-scale player vs. environment content (PvE)||9.3%||11.0%||11.3%||21.2%||14.5%|
Let's take a look at questions 6 through 8 together.
An overhaul to fundamental aspects of gameplay was by far and away the most common response. But an accelerated version update schedule and increased player communication are certainly not to be discounted, as each comprises over 10% of the total results. The responses to these questions have left quite an impression on us, and we will continue to be making numerous improvements to these areas in accordance with your continued feedback.
The issue that players would first like to see addressed is a general lack of game content, followed by changes to the battle system. Looking further, it seems that the type of content most strongly desired is quests and miniquests, accounting for about 40% of the responses. The auction house has also made a solid showing among the responses, no doubt due in part to the fact that, as previously mentioned, many of the pollees are or were FFXI players. My initial reaction was to interpret this as players stating that they want more adventures in Eorzea! More gil and loot!
In line with this, I believe that significant changes to the battle system are necessary to create a style of combat that lends itself to the enjoyment of quests and miniquests. Following that logic one step further, it is equally necessary to bring about significant changes to the user interface to create a UI that lends itself to the enjoyment of the battle system. After all, there is no point in making thorough improvements to battle if the response and usability of the interface isn't capable of conveying those improvements to players.
In line with the above results, we will be bringing quests and miniquests to Eorzea sometime after the beginning of February. Along with this, all of the changes being worked on during the end of last year and the beginning of this year to improve the games playability and user-friendliness will also be released around the same time.
Though the next version update will introduce a relatively small number of changes, preparations are already underway to bring further improvements in the near future via a number of smaller-scale patches, including the release of quests and system-side adjustments. At present, we intend for something new to be released about twice a month. Overhauls to the battle system and user interface will also be ongoing, which will make it easier for the players to enjoy the new quests and content being released. The small-scale, system-oriented updates that will be carried out can best be thought of as the necessary groundwork for the battle system revisions.
We will also be looking in earnest at the possibility of implementing an auction house, as well as continuing to improve the functionality of the item search feature. Once prioritized changes to the battle system have been made, we will continue to balance and adjust guildleve and behest rewards, as well as improve overall user-friendliness. I realize there are many things, but for me the first order of business is to create the FINAL FANTASY feeling. To have players take part in engaging quests that place them in a struggle against an impending crisis that threatens their world. To have those players combine their strength and fight alongside one another. I still can't help but wonder what that ominous four-line poem might portend for Eorzea in the coming year...
9. What do you find most appealing about FINAL FANTASY XIV? (Choose only one)
|World & lore||22.7%||26.4%||27.6%||33.2%||24.5%|
|The FINAL FANTASY name||9.1%||13.0%||15.6%||35.6%||4.6%|
I'm personally of the opinion that the two most popular responses, graphics and the game world, are the main attraction for all FINAL FANTASY titles. I also believe that the number of players who chose the game world option is a strong reason for the aforementioned demand for additional quests and miniquests.
10. Which of the following would you like to see implemented into the Lodestone? (Choose only one)
|Posts by the development and operations teams||36.4%||28.4%||28.0%||22.2%||24.6%|
|More in-depth Q&A posts||8.4%||7.8%||6.3%||10.5%||2.6%|
|More in-depth play guides||12.7%||17.6%||19.0%||22.6%||29.3%|
|More features for individual and linkshell/company pages||12.4%||11.9%||11.6%||15.0%||7.7%|
I'm very grateful for the fact that posts by the development and operations teams was the number one response to this question. In fact, this Letters from the Producer series is a direct result of this. In addition, we will begin a beta phase for the official FFXIV forums in all four languages (Japanese, English, French, and German) around the beginning of March. If all goes well, the forums should be up and ready for public use sometime in early April. I hope you are all looking forward to the forums as much as you are the changes to the game!
11. Would you welcome changes to FINAL FANTASY XIV that would drastically alter the rules already set in Eorzea?
It seems this question started a wave of panic among players about whether or not character data would potentially be wiped. For the definitive answer on that, please see my response to a player's letter below. As for the results, 85% of players answered in the affirmative. This is something that will be in the forefront of my mind when making decisions concerning future updates to the game. I promise to do everything in my power to address as many of the players' demands and desires as I can.
Thank you again to all those players who took the time to complete our poll. I hope that I've been able to appease those of you thinking, "Come on, Yoshi-P. Give us some specifics!" (Sorry, the fact that I haven't up until now is probably more a personality issue than anything else...^^;) Below is a list of changes and additions, some of them already underway, that will be introduced to the game in future version updates. And for those of you who might have been wondering, this list is by no means comprehensive.
|Category||Planned||Current Tasks||Future Tasks|
|Quests||Tutorials for new players||Planning and implementation of tutorial quests||Introduction of additional quests|
|Quests revolving around the danger facing Eorzea||Planning and implementation of quests||Introduction of additional quests|
|Public company quests||Planning of public companies and related quests in Limsa Lominsa, Ul'dah, and Gridania||Introduction of additional quests|
|User Interface (UI)||Improvements to the log||Changes to behavior of windows when moused over
Removal of auto-log activation, addition of ablitity to target behind log
|Automated show/hide feature
Log hidden after certain period of inactivity
|Revision of text colors by message type
Brighter system messages for easier reading
|Increased log tabs
Increased color customization by type
|Improvement of dialog windows
(ex. market area selection)
|Changes to increase the amount of on-screen data to reduce the need for multiple pages||Revisions to page advancing
Conversion to specialized windows
|Improvements to journal usability||Changes to consolidate all current quests and levequests on one screen||Ongoing changes
Additional list entries
|Changes to speed up text scrolling, increased further for prolonged scrolling||Addition of a feature to change pages using a gamepad|
|Adjustments to window size and scrolling position
Consolidation of levequest details on one screen
|Character jump feature||Examination of the implementation of jumping||Implementation following completion of a favorable examination|
|Increased visibility of combat damage display||Use of distinct colors for player and enemy damage||—|
|Adjustments to prevent overlapping of combat text
FINAL FANTASY-esque changes to number pop-up animations
|Increased usability of maps||Examination of increased refresh rates for more responsive maps||Implementation of chages
Subsequent increase in the number of points and icons pictured on maps
|Improved minimap usability||Addition of PC field-of-view display on the minimap||Quest NPC directional indicator|
|Improvements to camera usability||Changes to prevent random reset of camera distance settings||Changes to allow camera distance settings via gamepad|
|Changes to notification windows||Changes to window placement
Reduced intrusion of windows when engaged in combat
|Changes to increase the specialization of windows|
|Improvements to targeting mechanics||Changes to allow targeting by type (PC or NPC) when targeting with a gamepad||Examination of target indicator customization|
|Guildleves||Improvements to guildleve-related information||Command-based display of time remaining until guildleve renewals||—|
|Additional information when exchanging guildleves||—|
|Revision and balancing of local leve issuing conditions||Ongoing revision and balacing|
|Balancing of guildleve rewards||Changes to less popular guildleves in line with reward balances||Further release of new guildleves following balancing|
|Items, Synthesis, and Gathering||Adjustments to item condition values||Adjustments to lower the rate at which item condition deteriorates||Ongoing balances in line with player feedback|
|Higher visibility of the optimal rank of items||Changes to the color of item names to convey the disparity between optimal rank and a player's current rank
Currently assessing costs of implementation
|Color categorization of item names|
|Reassessment of the gear affinities||Introduction of gear with rank requirements to create player-oriented goals||Further changes to gear affinities|
|Revision of battle loot and quest rewards||Ability to obtain weapons and armor via battle loot and quest rewards||Implementation in line with quests|
|Changes to item stack sizes||Examination of increased stack sizes from 12 to 99||Implementation of increased item sizes after finalization|
|Increased pace of gathering actions||Changes to the frame rates of action animations to speed up gathering||—|
|Market Areas||Improvement of market area connectivity and stability||Reduction in the frequency of market area crashes||Ongoing improvements to market area stability|
|Improved usability of the item search feature||Addition of prices displayed together with search results||Examination of ability to search by specific item names|
|Examination of an auction house system||Final examination of retainer and auction house systems||Initial planning following final decision|
|Battle System||Ability to toggle display of head gear||Ability to toggle head gear to allow display of character faces||-|
|Revisions to party-based skill point acquisition in parties||Improvements to skill point acquisition for parties||—|
|Changes to enmity calculations||Revisions to enmity algorithms||Ongoing revisions to enmity algorithms|
|Revision of crowd control actions||Revision of crowd control actions for each class to improve party-based play||Implementation of changes after finalization|
|Changes to enemy group dynamics||Introduction of enemy group variability, as well as enemy group highlighting to enhance combat visibility||—|
|Changes to claiming/engaging enemies||Examination and implementation of changes to claiming and engaging enemies||Ongoing balancing of skill point acquisition following initial changes|
|Balancing of enemy attributes||Changes to enemy attributes and drops||Ongoing balancing as necessary|
|Addition of beast tribes||Release of beast tribe monsters as both roaming and quest-related enemies||Further implementation in line with new quests|
|Revision of enemy sizes||Optimization of enemy size for ease of play||—|
|Design and release of notorious monsters||Release of notorious monsters||Further implementation in line with new quests|
|Conversion of roaming monsters to notorious monsters||Implementation after finalization|
|Armoury System||Changes to actions for Disciplines of War & Magic classes||Further changes to enhance class uniqueness||Initial implementation of partial changes|
|Changes to class names||Possible introduction of traditional names such as paladin, monk, white mage, etc.||Announcement of further changes as they arise|
|Company System||Introduction of public companies||Introduction of public company leaders in each city-state||Announcement of further changes as they arise|
|Introduction of public companies in Limsa Lominsa, Ul'dah, and Gridania to combat the threat to Eorzea||Announcement of further changes as they arise|
Currently, the above changes, together with other adjustments and additions, comprise about 30% of what we currently have planned. There is still quite a lot to be done, especially when considering that more things will be added to the list. These posts that I will be making will continue to contain a list of planned changes, as well as updates on their current status.
Items on the above list will be removed once implemented, with dated notifications being given in separate posts. Changes that have been newly planned or are currently undergoing testing will be added as they arise.
By no means have the changes announced by the team up through the end of 2010, including planned adjustments and additions to the Lodestone, been abandoned. I will personally be determining which of these are necessary, and when an implementation schedule becomes clear, I will add it to the list above. I'll have to ask you all to make due with these posts of mine until the official forums are up and running. I'd very much like to be able to put the official forums and further community-based changes on the list by the time of my next post...
As I mentioned previously in the poll analysis, examination and planning of changes to the battle system, and related changes to the Armoury system, are proceeding at a very rapid rate, as we would like to implement them as soon as possible. In particular, I would very much like to continue incorporating player feedback into the adjustments being made to the claiming/engaging system, and finalize it it the near future.
Also, please look forward to further news regarding the public company system (not the official name...), as I will be releasing more details on it soon!
I realize that this is already a lot of text, but bear with me just a bit longer... Putting aside any news of changes to the game, I'd like to share with you a bit of an update on the FFXIV team. Enjoy!
I'll begin with a recounting of a visit we paid to Sensouji in Asakusa to offer our first prayers of the new year.
Somebody needs to learn to focus a camera... I made an offering of ¥10,000 (roughly $122 at the current rate), but whoever was snapping the photos at the moment I placed it in the collection box managed to take an even blurrier photo than this one. I know it looks like I roll with a somewhat unsavory crowd, but the entire FFXIV team numbers about four times the people shown here, are there are plenty of good and gentle souls. The unsavory ones are just those pictured in the front here.
And, partaking in the Japanese new year tradition of drawing paper fortunes, the gods saw fit to grant me a daikichi! That literally translates as "big luck," and is the best fortune possible for the coming year. Well, I didn't draw it per se... Actually, Suzuki-san spotted it crumpled up on the ground, so I grabbed it. No sense in letting a perfectly good daikichi go to waste!
But the true treasure of the evening is this masterpiece...
I like to call this, "Now this is the new FFXIV!" Pictured are lead developers Akihiko Matsui (left) and Nobuaki Komoto (right), and the expressions on their faces are simply priceless! Don't worry, they are actually very close friends...really.
Again, I apologize for the long post, but thank you to those of you who have stuck with me this far. I'd like to close by making a response to an inspiring piece of fan mail I received from a certain player.
I received your air mail, all the way from California. Your letter made me extremely happy and I would like to thank you for encouraging the development team in our efforts.
You expressed concern over whether one of the four keywords I introduced at the beginning of the year, namely reboot, meant that we would be wiping character data. I apologize for any confusion that this choice of terminology may have caused, but rest assured that character data will not be wiped.
This decision was in no way influenced by your letter, but is something that I have been adamant about from the onset. As a personal policy, I would simply never allow it.
Our characters are us, complex collections of memories and emotions, and nobody has the right to take them away from us.
I will be more careful in the future when choosing my words, and regret any anxiety I may have caused among players fearing for their characters' safety.
Please tell everyone on the Kashuan World that Yoshi-P says hello!
I'm already looking forward to writing my next letter! Until then!