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PostPosted: Sat May 23, 2009 10:02 am 
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Tarutaru Murder Suspect
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Saw this on Allakhazam first so I decided to copy it here.
Interesting Interview. I think the guy who did the mini expansions, Masato Kato (Scenario writer), won't be doing other ffxi related things.
A point I didn't agree with was the focus of ACP tying loose ends starting from the original opening scene.
I don't think the original CG had anything to do with ACP in my honest opinion.
All in all it was satisfying that Square granted us an interview about this issue.
1up.com wrote:
FFXI Developer Interview Reveals the Process Behind Their Latest Expansion
We talk with the FFXI developers about ACP, security concerns, and the future of PlayOnline.

By James Mielke, 05/22/2009

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As you may have seen in my review of Final Fantasy XI's recent download-only 'add-on A Crystalline Prophecy I didn't give the time-wasting, $10 fetch-quest ($10 on top of the normal monthly fees, that is) particularly high marks for what should have been included free with the MMO's recent April update. With that in mind I approached the development team -- Masato Kato (Scenario writer), Koichi Ogawa (FFXI Director), Toshio Murouchi (Global Community Producer) -- with a batch of questions regarding ACP, the newly-released security token, and the future of PlayOnline. To their credit -- particularly Koichi Ogawa -- they roll with the punches and do their best to answer my blunt line of questioning.

1UP: Mr. Kato, you seem to have the luckiest job of all: Explore the stories that you originally wanted to tell, but couldn't for various reasons. How satisfying is it to be able to get these stories out there?

Masato Kato: The luckiest job? Nah, I wouldn't say that. [Grins] With this project, there were a lot of limitations -- on the technical side, and with the game world/setting -- so when the developers told me that certain things couldn't be done, it was a challenge to convince them otherwise. But in the end, I was pleased with the way it turned out.

It's all thanks to the hard work of the development team. With the story of A Crystalline Prophecy, I had always wanted to see closure brought to the tale of Aldo and Emeline from the opening movie. So, when the request came in, it was just what I'd been waiting for.

1UP: What is it with crystals in Final Fantasy? They're everywhere. Is this a common theme that must continually be explored, or do scenario writers in Japan really love crystals?


Masato Kato: Well, crystals have been explored as an important theme since the original Final Fantasy, so I didn't want to just cast that aside. I wanted to stay true to the spirit of the original series.

So no, it's not just that all Japanese scenario writers have a thing for crystals. [Laughs]

1UP: Do you participate in how the rest of the dev team works the story into the gameplay? How are your scenarios translated into gameplay, boss fights, etc.?

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Masato Kato: With ACP, I kept the game flow in mind as I wrote the scenario. The dev team looked at the scenario and made certain requests like, "We want to turn this part into a quest and give it some more weight," or, "We want to expand this part a bit more." As long as it didn't interfere too much with my original scenario, I deferred to their wishes. They're the ones who are thinking most about what players are looking for, after all.

1UP: Please tell us about the three new scenarios and why you chose these particular story threads to pick up and continue. The dev team told me in a previous interview that these were stories you had originally wanted to tell, but didn't have the time or proper forum to expand.

Masato Kato: Well, I don't like leaving things unfinished. If you start telling a story, you should bring it to a proper conclusion, you know? Of course, with FFXI being an online game, there are certain things that have to continue as they are, that you can't change, so loose ends kind of go with the territory. I'd say that with A Crystalline Prophecy, I felt like I was bringing closure to something that had been left unfinished.

I left the FFXI team after Rise of the Zilart, but after that [lead event planner] Ms. Sato continued the story of the Memoria de la Stona quite nicely (in Chains of Promathia), so I was able to build off of that a bit as well. For A Moogle Kupo d'Etat and A Shantotto Ascension, I just set out to come up with stories that would be interesting and catch players by surprise.

1UP: With three scenarios, would you say that each has its own 'feel'? A Crystalline Prophecy was pretty serious, and it reminded a lot of people of Chains of Promathia. Is "A Moogle Kupo d'Etat" more lighthearted in nature, and where would "A Shantotto Ascension" fall in terms of seriousness?

Masato Kato: Oh yes, each scenario definitely has its own flavor. A Crystalline Prophecy is the most serious, which is understandable, as it's directly tied in with the game's main themes. A Moogle Kupo d'Etat is more comical -- though my original plan was to turn it into something scary. A Shantotto Ascension isn't overly serious either. My goal from the beginning with this project was to make something that players could enjoy in a more casual, lighthearted way.

1UP: Is each add-on a standalone story, or will a bigger intertwining scenario connecting all three be revealed later?

Masato Kato: No -- as I said earlier, the goal was to create relatively compact stories that could be enjoyed casually. Each one is a separate, self-contained episode.

1UP: What is the most interesting thing you've seen players do based on the characters you've created? Dress up like Mandragoras? Talk like Tarutarus in real life?


Masato Kato: It's not really for me to judge. If players are enjoying the game world as they want to, then more power to them, I say. I mean, if they heard me saying how terrible such-and-such was, they wouldn't be very happy, would they? But actually, just in the real world around me, every day I come across plenty of people who could pass for Tarutaru, Galka, Elvaan, or what have you. Just don't tell them I said that! [Laughs]
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1UP: These three add-ons have allowed you to expand on scenarios only briefly hinted at in the past. Could give us an example of another scenario in another expansion that you would love to do the same thing to?

Masato Kato: To tell you the truth, there are just so many constraints to writing add-on scenarios for this game that I don't think I'll be doing any more -- I could see myself getting into some epic battles with the dev team if that happened!

1UP: The Tenshodo's Aldo is obviously a very pivotal character in the FFXI universe. What is it that you enjoy about this character and what's most satisfying about fleshing out this NPC's backstory?

Masato Kato: With Aldo, for me at least, it's the opening movie that really left a powerful and lasting impression. I was familiar with the Esperanto language -- the song "Memoria de la Stona" features lyrics written in Esperanto -- but that was my first time working with it directly. Looking back, it was quite a challenge to pull that off. So I definitely had a sense that the movie was a defining point where everything started, and I wanted to bring closure to that as best I could. With the constraints of writing for an online game, and not being able to change things, though, I feel like there are some aspects that I had to force through in a rather...heavy-handed fashion. [Grins]

1UP: What do you think is the most significant accomplishment you've achieved in your work on FFXI?

Masato Kato: When I got involved with FFXI, there was a prevailing view that storytelling wasn't important in online games -- that as long as you had a game world that players could experience freely, you didn't need a narrative. I thought, why not also have stories that players can experience together? This was what I was shooting for in my time on the FFXI team. Actually, it's a fundamental philosophy of mine -- that people can't live their lives without some kind of narrative. So for me, my most significant accomplishment was helping to set the foundation for that. How well I succeeded, of course, is another matter altogether! [Laughs]

1UP: The first add-on, ACP, features very simplistic mission requirements, you collect X number of items to move on to the next part of the quest, then do it all over again. Was this quest structure deliberately simple?


Koichi Ogawa: For this first add-on scenario, the plan was to have well-defined mission progression. Therefore, yes, the simple quest structure is deliberate.

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1UP: Most players are, by now, level 75 many times over, which makes the obligatory task of defeating "too weak" enemies kind of tedious, especially when it comes to gathering Key Items. It took me a few hours to get the goblin to drop the Goblin Salad in Batallia Downs, but I heard from one player that it took him 120 goblins before it dropped. This just seems like a way to extend the play time of the ACP add-on -- Would you say that's a fair estimation?

Koichi Ogawa: The opening missions were designed to be suitable for characters at around level 30. The difficulty level increases gradually as players advance through the story all the way to the final confrontation, designed for level 75. Therefore, in the early stages, items that are required to progress the story are acquired from lower level enemies. It was not our intention to extend play time unnecessarily, and all we can say is that the varied drop rates are entirely a matter of chance.

1UP: Now that the add-on has been out for a little bit, how has the feedback been? Will or could that affect how the next two add-ons are designed, or are they already complete in terms of gameplay design?

Koichi Ogawa: Of course, we've heard a wide range of opinions. With regards to the aforementioned item-gathering, over-camping is a well-known issue.

On the other hand, the battles interspersed throughout the story have generally been well received. While the content of the upcoming add-on scenarios has already been determined to a certain degree, we are constantly listening to our users and looking to incorporate their opinions as best we can.

1UP: Most people think the armor rewards are really good; so good in fact that many formerly expensive pieces of armor have seen massive price drops on the AH. However, a lot of people would rather have just paid for the armor without having to do all the running around and farming.

Koichi Ogawa: The attributes of armor rewards reflect the scenario's difficulty. For instance, if a piece of armor were available without the need to complete a series of missions, it would probably be something that prioritizes form over function.

1UP: The security token is a nice idea. But beyond the token itself, it seems like the creation of the Square Enix master account, in which you connect all of your FFXI accounts, is the bigger deal. Is this a sign of things to come?

Toshio Murouchi: The Square Enix Account was developed so that users could access various online services provided by Square Enix via a single ID, eliminating the need to have a different one for each title. The account makes it possible to manage security measures (e.g., the newly released security token) as well as fee payments under one umbrella. As you can see, many benefits can be had through using this universal account. All future MMO and online releases from Square Enix will require the use of a Square Enix Account for access.

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1UP: The token, while effective, adds yet two more passwords to enter, in addition to the already massive number of confirmation screens needed to begin playing FFXI. Was this really the most effective method you could offer players to protect their accounts?

Toshio Murouchi: For FFXI, there was a need to make the token compatible with players' preexisting PlayOnline IDs. This process of associating the two can be completed via the PlayOnline Viewer, and needs to be done once only. After this, players will be able to log in to their accounts with their Square Enix Account IDs, and, if using a security token, the one-time password that is displayed on that also.

In debating the best way to protect user accounts, we took both simplicity and security into consideration. Following a comprehensive discussion of the growing popularity of one-time passwords as a security measure, it was deemed that combining the user's own password with the security token's one-time password would provide the optimal level of security. In the future, we intend to continue monitoring user feedback as well as observe the ways in which one-time passwords are utilized in other industries, in order to constantly deliver the best security solutions to our players.

1UP: ACP is surprising in that it's replayable, in case someone who picked Attack+10 Accuracy+10 on a Mirke Wardecors for his melee character wants to reconfigure it to Ranged Attack+10 and Ranged Accuracy+10, for example, for his Ranger or Corsair. Of course, people who want to switch from a Mirke Wardecors to a Nuevo Coselete or a Royal Redigote can do so as well. Was this to allow more for open-ended gear customization?

Koichi Ogawa: Open-ended customization was our intention when designing the reward items. We wanted to give players the freedom to select and change their own attributes as desired, not force them into playing the same content over and over.

1UP: Why can't players obtain all three armors at once? Was it just to keep things consistent with other rewards, like Rajas Rings?

Koichi Ogawa: That's exactly correct. The same considerations were made for the three armors as other mission reward items such as the Rajas Rings.

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1UP: ACP is easily beaten in a day, if you know where you're going and what you have to do. Has the experience of offering downloadable scenarios inspired you to create bigger, download-only expansions, or do you prefer to offer them in bite-sized bits?

Koichi Ogawa: The currently in-progress Wings of the Goddess missions have just recently reached the halfway mark, and anything beyond this is yet to be determined. But the world of Vana'diel is a treasure trove of exciting tales waiting to be told; we would definitely like to explore scenarios and activities that make use of that rich variety in the future.

1UP: When are the Iron Ram and Cobar Unit bodies going to be added to the game? Our Campaign sets are incomplete!


Koichi Ogawa: Our profuse apologies for having kept our fans waiting. We suspect that the final pieces of these sets may make an appearance when new Campaign ranks and further Campaign areas are added.

1UP: Over the last couple of years, you've done a great job adding Blue Mage-specific swords and whatnot, keeping the BLU community satisfied as a result. But where are the Puppetmaster-specific hand-to-hand weapons, and the Dancer-specific daggers?


Koichi Ogawa: The development team is looking into this as we speak. In the near future, we think we will be able to deliver something that fans will appreciate!

1UP: Thanks for your time and good luck.

Original Link: http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?pager.offset=0&cId=3174358

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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 3:24 am 
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♫Elite Beat Agent♫
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<That's interesting.> But seriously, I was completely satisfied by this interview. It was bold but didn't overextend on either side of the questions, plus it actually had substance! Bravo!

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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 7:53 pm 
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The development team is looking into this as we speak. In the near future, we think we will be able to deliver something that fans will appreciate!


How about more red mage blades that aren't a mockery of some of the other things we can currently use? Or better yet, some decent armor.

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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2009 9:55 pm 
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what else would rdm need for swords? i think they have already some awesome things. what can beat a joyeuse or an enhancing sword that is the greatest ever for rdm? unless im reading your post wrong, what is this mockery you speak of?

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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2009 2:50 am 
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Deed, no armor you wear is decent, just look at your siggy! :D

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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 11:16 am 
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So let me get this straight, you pay 10 bucks for something you can finish in 1 day? And they still havent completed the storyline of wings of the goddess?

What ever happened to augments on armor too, is that related to ACP?

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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 11:51 am 
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Daymon wrote:
So let me get this straight, you pay 10 bucks for something you can finish in 1 day? And they still havent completed the storyline of wings of the goddess?

What ever happened to augments on armor too, is that related to ACP?


Correct.


And the augments are still around, but it's functionally worthless. You can only augment gear below level 50 that doesn't have an R/EX tag (so, no peacock charms for example, but ochiudo's kotes are fine), but the stats are random. It's possible to get negative stats, so it's a pretty silly gamble.

That being said, some augmented equipment from ANNMs are nice. I think there's an adaman cuirass with some +shield skill, a fancy demon helm that Arynel got. Selection is pretty limited, in terms of equipment and augments, but it's not terrible.


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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 12:21 pm 
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Daymon wrote:
So let me get this straight, you pay 10 bucks for something you can finish in 1 day?


Well, people tend to spend more than this going to the movies for only 2 hours, sometime less.


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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 1:45 pm 
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And to expand on what Aid said, only the ACP body piece is truly customizable via the augment system. All the other augments are random. The gear from ANNMs has a predetermined set of augments on them and you have a chance of getting those specific augments.

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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 4:37 pm 
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Deed, no armor you wear is decent, just look at your siggy! :D


You know you like it, sister. ;)

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