Da den opprinnelige versjon 1.0 av Final Fantasy XIV landet på PC i 2010, var spillet så dårlig og fullt av feil at selv Bethesda ville bli overrasket. I kjølvannet av den lunkne mottakelsen av Final Fantasy XIII var den ikoniske rollespillserien i alvorlig fare. Til tross for alle odds, klarte Naoki Yoshida å snu strømmen på en av de mest kritikerroste og respekterte MMORPG-ene på markedet den dag i dag. Få figurer i spillindustrien kan skryte av å ha reddet en serie fra fullstendig kollaps, men Yoshida klarte det umulige. Det er derfor ingen overraskelse at fansen er begeistret for hans rolle i utviklingen av det neste store kapittelet. Kan Naoki Yoshida fortsette sin triumferende marsj og levere nok en klassiker? Nylig fikk vi tilbringe 20 minutter i hans selskap for å bli klokere på akkurat det spørsmålet.
Under finner du vårt intervju med Yoshida.
Som allerede nevnt i Awakening-traileren for nesten to år siden, vender Final Fantasy XVI tilbake til seriens tidlige High Fantasy-dager, som spesifikt ble brukt i de første fem kapitlene. Hvorfor valgte du å gå i en helt annen retning enn de mer futuristiske science fiction-inspirerte verdenene fra nyere tid?
"So, the simple reason is that a lot of the development team at Creative Business Unit III that are working on Final Fantasy XVI really enjoy a medieval high fantasy type setting, myself included. And we wanted to create a game with that high fantasy feel.
Another big reason, like you said in your question, is that there is this feeling that the series had been kind of shifting into this kind of futuristic sci-fi setting. We got a lot of feedback from players that the style was becoming sort of static and was kind of falling into a rut. So to kind of shake up things, and the series in general, was another reason why we wanted to go back to those classic fantasy roots. To bring players something that felt a little bit different than what they've been getting in the recent years."
Hvilken erfaring fra arbeidet med Final Fantasy XIV har teamet tatt med seg inn i utviklingen av Final Fantasy XVI?
"Well as you know Final Fantasy XIV is an MMORPG, while Final Fantasy XVI is a single player standalone game. So from a game design standpoint, both games are aiming for completely different things. Therefore it's kind of difficult to say exactly what we've brought over in terms of game design. But with that said, one of the most valuable things that our team has learned by working on Final Fantasy XIV for these past 11 years is, we have learned about our players, we've learned about the fans, we've learned about the media and through our interactions with those groups, we've learned who they are, what they enjoy, what they don't like, what they want in a game, what they don't want in a game and what they expect in their Final Fantasy and in the Final Fantasy series. And so being able to take that knowledge, use it and incorporate it in the development of XVI, has definitely benefited us during development."
Det kommer veldig tydelig frem i traileren at de såkalte Eikonene vil være sentrale i historien, og vi så også scener som i Final Fantasy IX, hvor Eikons kjemper mot hverandre. Hvordan vil disse enorme summonene være relatert til spillingen i Final Fantasy XVI?
"So, the Eikons in Final Fantasy XVI are very much unlike those summons that you'll see in previous Final Fantasy games in that they aren't summoned by a summoner from another place using magic. The Eikons are unique and powerful creatures that reside inside an individual person. These individuals are called dominants in Final Fantasy XVI, and they can become an Eikon. Each of the dominants have their own complex stories and backgrounds. Some are revered as heroes in their nations or treated as slaves and used as weapons of war, while some take part in the government and politics. It's different for each nation. The dominants are bound by harsh destinies and through the narrative we learn their stories, we learn what drives them, we learn what they value and what they believe is right - or wrong. As well as what they're willing to fight for, and whether they should accept the hands, they've been dealt or fight for something more.
As for the battles themselves in Final Fantasy XVI, you will see they come in many different scales and sizes. Like you saw in the trailer, some battles will feature Clive fighting waves of smaller soldier-like enemies. Others will pit him against colossal bosses or even the Eikons themselves. Clive will actually get to control an Eikon himself and battle other Eikons in encounters on a massive scale. The one thing that can be said about all of these, however, is that the action, the cutscenes, the dialogue and the story are all blended seamlessly. No load times at all paves the way for a high octane, rollercoaster game experience."
Og når vi nå snakker om summons, så ser vi mange av klassikerne dukke opp. Hvordan har teamet bak gått frem når de har valgt hvilke summons som skal være sentrale for historien?
"So, the Final Fantasy series has had a long story history of almost 35 years. And during that time, many, many different summons have appeared in the series. So when deciding on which ones to bring to Final Fantasy XVI, I focused on two things. The first of them being that I wanted to bring summons that most players around the world had heard of before and would be excited about experiencing on such a large scale. As for Ifrit, this one's a little bit special. As you know, in most Final Fantasy games, Ifrit is usually one of the first summons that the hero encounters, meaning that he's also one of the first to get defeated by the hero and I kind of felt sorry for him. So I thought this time I'd give him his opportunity to shine by making him really strong and the focal point of our story."
Både Awakening- og Dominance-trailerne har vist Clive i forskjellige aldre, hvilket peker på en historie som strekker seg over flere år. Kan du fortelle litt mer om hvordan dette spiller en rolle i historien?
"So the story and Final Fantasy XVI follows Clive Rosefield through three important stages in his life. One is in his teens, one is when he's in his 20s and one when he's in his 30s. When he's in his teens we see him as a shield of the Duchy of Rosario, a kind of fancy name for a knight in the Duchy. Here we see him as a young man, learning to master the sword. As the game progresses and Clive grows older, he comes into the possession of the power of several Eikons and learns their abilities."
Vi så også noe som likner en Dragoon, en klassisk Final Fantasy-jobb, som også ble introdusert i FFXIV via Heavensward-utvidelsen. Vil klassiske jobber spille en rolle i Final Fantasy XVI?
"There was an idea early on in development, that actually continued on until about the middle stage, that we could introduce a job system here that was based off of the Eikon abilities. We ultimately decided against it, as we felt that we wanted to give the player, and wanted to give Clive, the freedom to create one's own type of playstyle. By putting on the restrictions of a job it would affect how Clive would end up looking and what Clive was able to do and we didn't want to have the restrictions on things of what Clyde was able to do.
And while Dragoons do exist in the game as NPCs. There really aren't that many other references to classic jobs. That's not to say, however, that the team didn't base some of Final Fantasy XVI's enemies on things, like, say, classic Final Fantasy jobs. We have one elite character that everyone on the team calls a ninja because it has similar actions and there are others as well. And for those players that look very close, they might be able to see some hints of classic Final Fantasy jobs."
"The History of the crystals have shaped our history for too long" er et sitat som er blitt brukt flere ganger i forbindelse med spillet. Kan det også tolkes som at Final Fantasy som serie skal bryte tradisjonen? Som det første nummererte Final Fantasy-spillet med en M-rating, et helt annet kampsystem enn vi er vant til og økt fokus på en enkelt karakter, så virker det virkelig som at Final Fantasy er på vei i en ny retning?
"Yes, so there's two meanings behind the tagline. The first one being, that yes, FINAL FANTASY, as I mentioned, the series has become a bit static in the last few games in the series with the same type of themes and more of a sci-fi aesthetic. As a series, we want to break away from that and do something new. So yes, that would be one of the meanings, and wanting to break away from that - the crystals have shaped our history - the series has shaped our history, and we want to take a step away from that.
The other meaning. Crystals have always appeared in FINAL FANTASY games as things that are good. They protect and essentially offer a blessing to the player. We wanted to flip that on its head to create something that's new, exciting, and impactful. Basically, by making it the opposite of what it has been in a lot of games. Instead of having this blessing, here it turns into something that's more of a curse. As you play through the game, you'll learn the true meaning behind this, and we'll go into explaining what's going on with the crystals and how this tagline ties into the secrets in there. But you'll have to play the game to see that!"
Vi takker Yoshida for hans tid. Final Fantasy XVI lanseres neste år.