Final Fantasy XIV: An Interview with Producer & Director Naoki Yoshida

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Final Fantasy XIV: An Interview with Producer & Director Naoki Yoshida

The producer and director of the hit MMO shares his proudest in-game accomplishment, his reasoning for playing as a Lalafell, and more.

If anyone knows Final Fantasy XIV like the back of their hand, it is definitely Naoki Yoshida, the producer and director of the game. To mark the latest anniversary of the MMO, he wanted to extend an invite to join him and millions of other dedicated players in enjoying the multiplayer RPG.

Knowing that joining a well established community – and trying an all-new adventure – can be daunting, Yoshida-san offers his advice for PlayStation 4 fans who are interested in joining but don’t know where to begin, and explains exactly why there’s no better time to join in the fun.

You don’t need to be a MMO veteran to enjoy Final Fantasy XIV

Yoshida-san, FFXIV is ever expanding, which means it can be easy to forget how it felt taking your first steps into the adventure. It can also be difficult to look at the game from a new player’s perspective when heavily involved in the development process.

Imagine yourself not only as a new FFXIV player, but also a newbie to MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games). You know next to nothing about the genre and you’ve just bought the complete edition of FFXIV [which includes the base game and two huge post-launch expansions: A Realm Reborn, Heavensward and Stormblood]. You’ve created your character, watched the first few cutscenes and a brand new world is opening up to you. What do you do now? How do you begin your journey as the Warrior of Light?

Naoki Yoshida: “Right, so the first question to start us off is a fairly difficult one [laughs]! If I didn’t know anything, I think I would start by just enjoying the story. Even if I didn’t have any experience in playing MMORPGs, I would still be the same fan of the Final Fantasy series I am today. So, I think I would travel through the main story as I would be excited to see what awaits in the FF tale to come.”

Final Fantasy XIVFinal Fantasy XIV

FFXIV includes a great deal of allusions to the previous FF titles (for some, they might feel like an homage to the series as a whole). There are quest names, places and people taken straight from earlier Final Fantasy titles such as Warriors of Darkness (FFIII), Doma (FFVI), Triple Triad card game (FFVIII) and many others. Whilst filling you with a sense of nostalgia, you can tell that the game was created by lovers of the FF series who want to keep the game true to its roots.

When it comes to learning how to play FFXIV and finding your own way of being the Warrior of Light, the main story quests nicely holds your hand in the beginning. It teaches you everything from accepting quests to how to play your chosen job!

But, before you dive into saving the world, you have to create your character! Let’s talk about that; a lot of players know that you love the game and you especially love playing as Lalafell [playable race that is tiny, plump and cute] with black mage being your main job. Nobody’s probably ever seen you playing with another race and job combo so… If you had to choose between playing as a black mage or as a Lalafell, which would you choose (knowing that you’d have to let go of the other) and why?

NY: “I would play as Lalafell on a different job. Why? Because Lalafell is Justice!”

Final Fantasy XIV

Yoshida’s black mage Lalafell as seen in the #XIV14Days screenshot challenge

Saving the world – or just downing an epic monster – is all the more satisfying because you’ve worked together with other players

One unifying theme in all the FF titles is saving the world. Although being a hero isn’t always easy and the journey is a long one… What do you think you would find the most rewarding in the adventure ahead? What would be most challenging?

NY: “I think I would probably find myself in awe as I ran around the towns watching the other characters, whilst thinking, ‘Those characters are also actual ‘people’ playing this game somewhere out in the world, just like I am right now!’ That’s what it was like for me when I first played Ultima Online. Straight after that I was PKed [killed in game by another player] which was pretty shocking!

“I think the first point in which I would be really excited would be when reaching level 15 in the main storyline quests and participating in a dungeon with other players. That’s because I believe that above anything else, completing something with other people for the first time offers a heart-pounding level of excitement.”

You can easily join groups and start forging friendships with other adventurers

It must be exciting to experience the game alongside other players. Online games are at their best when you’re playing with friends. If you don’t have friends yet playing FFXIV, it’s not that hard to make new ones. You could join a Free Company (FFXIV’s own take on a guild, which makes it easy to play together with like-minded people and explore Hydaelyn via airships and lets you even take care of a house together), join a Linkshell (FFXIV’s own term for a group chat) or just run around in-game, help and talk to other players!

Final Fantasy XIVFinal Fantasy XIV

FINAL FANTASY XIV Fan Festival in Frankfurt 2017

Yoshida-san, FFXIV recently celebrated its fourth birthday since A Realm Reborn came out! What are you most thankful for when it comes to FFXIV in terms of the time between launch of A Realm Reborn in 2013 and how far we’ve come from then?

NY: “Up until now the players have really given me so much to be happy about. Amongst all of that, what stands above the rest would have to be the Fan Festivals [huge community events held throughout the world where players meet for exclusive announcements and lots of in-game and live activities]. I have been attending events all over the world, but those who gather for Fan Festivals are none other than the Warriors of Light. Being able to see everyone’s enthusiasm and all of their smiles makes me truly happy, and I get a real sense of achievement at that time as well. I can’t wait to do another Fan Fest again!

“I also get a real sense of achievement from the fact that the development team and the operations team are one, and we are able to constantly send out updates and large scale expansion packages. It’s a real challenge to constantly keep this going. I have nothing but respect and thanks for the dev team who are accomplishing this.”

Yoshida’s proudest achievement as a FFXIV player

Now that you’ve mentioned achievements, what is your proudest achievement (as a player) that you’ve accomplished in FFXIV?

NY: “I have so many memories, but I think it was when I completed The Second Coil of Bahamut – Turn 4. I had completed it when testing in development, but it was a different level of enjoyment to anonymously complete it together with the actual players.

“The Second Coil of Bahamut is the second part of a high-end raid [eight player ‘dungeon’] that came out in 2014 as part of A Realm Reborn, the relaunch of FFXIV. Back then, that was the raid to test your and your team’s skills. Adventurers in Hydaelyn still test their skills there when they’re not running newer raids!”

Final Fantasy XIVFinal Fantasy XIV

The Second Coil of Bahamut

Yoshida-san, if you could incorporate one thing from FFXIV into the real world, what would it be and why?

NY: “It would be the ability to use Teleport! I hate aeroplanes! But that wouldn’t need to be from XIV, would it? Hmm… then I would become the Warrior of Light and save the world. I guess [laughs].”

The world would definitely need some saving at times. Lastly I need to ask this; there are plenty of amazing games out there, so what do you think makes FFXIV unique?

NY: “It has to be the great graphics, sound and abundance of battle content that pulls together the game-play experience; which is all held up by a powerful main story that rivals a standalone RPG.”

FFXIV may be an MMO game but it is first and foremost a Final Fantasy game. If you’re not a player yet, but you’d like to try it out and test your wings as a Paladin or become the greatest fisher in Eorzea, you can download the free trial on PS4 which lets you play as long as you want for free up to level 35. You can read more about the free trial in our earlier PlayStation Blog post.

See you in Hydaelyn!

P.S. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up playing with the grandmaster of FFXIV without even knowing it!

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