Yoshida talks balancing fan feedback versus developer philosophy in Final Fantasy XIV

Following the announcement of Final Fantasy XIV‘s next big expansion with “Dawntrail”, various press and media outlets had the opportunity to sit down with producer and director Naoki Yoshida for a bit of a chat following the first day’s events. Whilst the topics did cover a few notes on the expansion, the session was largely keyed in on the game’s 10th anniversary and general FFXIV discussion.

We at Nova Crystallis had a chance to be there and did have one of our questions pertaining to the 10th anniversary developments and retrospectives selected for an answer. The basis of the question we asked was largely centered on recent discussions with fan feedback. There had been a bit of a revelation that Yoshida often looks at fan comments on social media and the like and how that affects him. With that in mind, we crafted a broader question that looks more at what goes through his and the team’s mind when they get so much of that feedback and requests, and how as a developer do they balance that out after ten years of doing just that while still keeping in mind their philosophies of what FFXIV should be.

This sort of thing is important to touch upon because Yoshida says their process is not explainable by words, so to speak. “Being a gamer myself and also a Warrior of Light playing in Final Fantasy XIV, there are many points of feedback that I could totally understand. But when you look at the player perspective, I feel that it tends to lean towards, ‘Well, if it’s okay now, then it’s fine,’ or ‘If I could get this inconvenience out of the way now, it’ll be okay,’ or something similar. I mean, we’re all playing games for fun. We tend to focus on the now.”

On the other hand, there is the developer perspective to think about and also concerns surrounding game difficulty and challenge. “If we make everything easy, if we lose the challenge or decrease it… it might be fine right now, but if you look at it from a long perspective, will it actually be good? Sometimes it might destroy the game balance,” says Yoshida. Certainly this is something to be concerned about when it comes to some people who want to play casually, and those that are more hardcore players who are okay with coming back and farming and things like that. “If we listen to every piece of feedback and accept it all, it would potentially break the game.”

Of course, there are some more obvious elements that do get responded to rather quickly. “There are instances where we notice something in the UI must be fixed, so it’s worth it to spend two patches to correct that,” Yoshida continues. “Or sometimes, there is content where we are unfortunately unable to accommodate or address at that time. That’s the job I have as a director of the game: to kind of see what kind of situation we are facing.” He then notes that there really isn’t a method so to speak, and it’s more intuitive, but is this ultimately the kind of thinking behind the team’s decisions.

With version 7.0 primed to take on even more of fan requests, it’ll be interesting to observe how these philosophies continue. For more on our continuing coverage of Final Fantasy XIV, be sure to check out everything we’ve put together for the North American Fan Fest announcements here.

Disclaimer: Images courtesy of Square Enix.

About the Author

Erren Van Duine As a self-professed Final Fantasy fan, Erren created Nova Crystallis in 2009 as a place to collect the latest information on her favorite series. As owner and Editor-in-Chief, she also spends her time as a freelance illustrator.