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 Dengeki Alpha/Beta Interview

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Khalus Akuhei
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PostSubject: Dengeki Alpha/Beta Interview   Sun May 30, 2010 6:23 am

More new nummy info, much of this was in the most recently article but in greater detail. Heck this might just be that same article just translated properly in full....ah well, still a very good read!


Quote :
Here's the first interview in the June 11th issue of Dengeki PlayStation. The second one will be up when the translation is finished. Enjoy!



Special Developer Interview

Part 1: Hiromichi Tanaka and Nobuaki Komoto



Servers slowly stabilizing

Dengeki PlayStation (DP): What’s the current status of the alpha test?
Komoto (NK): A lot of problems came up that we weren’t expecting, most of which were due to the load on the servers. It was a constant cycle; a problem would show up as soon as we fixed another problem. It caused a lot of problems for the players, and we’re really sorry about that.
Tanaka (HT): We found other problems hiding in the code and have done our best to CRUSH them.

DP: Have you been able to fix a lot of problems through the alpha tests up to this point?
NK: We haven’t been able to fix as much as we’d like. We wanted players to go even further into the game to find the problems in other places, but right now, even the basics aren’t complete, so it’s more like the players are helping us stabilize the servers.

DP: When will the players be able to play without time limits?
HT: Players will be able to log in freely by the time beta starts.

DP: Did the number of players that logged in exceed your expectations?
NK: It did at first, but now we announce the test times pretty close to when we start the test, so now there are actually a few less than we’d like.
HT: Right now we want to get one world server stabilized, so we’ll try to add enough people to it to test its stability. After that we’ll increase the number of world servers. Our aim is to let in about 50,000 people.

DP: When will you be adding more players?
HT: We’ll add them when alpha 2 starts, which is pretty soon. We already have the players chosen.
NK: Once we stabilize it on the alpha level, we’d like to add even more players.

DP: The alpha test started with the game at a rather unpolished state. How are the players taking this?
NK: A lot of players have been pointing out the poor tempo of battle and the lack of explanation for parts of the game. We are trying to decide how write the explanations for beta and commercial release, so these are really helpful comments.
HT: Komoto told the testers before alpha started that the tempo of battle is something we’re looking at. When beta test starts, we will be implementing a completely different battle system, practically remade from the ground up. We weren’t planning on using the current battle system in the first place, but we didn’t want players to wait until beta, so we explained the situation and opened the test.

DP: There were times when players couldn’t see the aetherite or times when character motion and attack timings were off. Were these caused by the heavy server load?
NK: Most likely. The play was smoothest in dungeons with no people in them, so it would be nice if we could have more players play in areas like that. The aetherite problem had other causes, and we’re in the middle of implementing solutions.

DP: How about the error messages that appear when attempting a battle regimen?
NK: When this happens, it’s caused by server load and a bug which we’re working on fixing.
HT: Right now, the battle is done through a time gauge system, which makes for a bad battle tempo. Once we’re in beta, the battle system will be completely different, and you’ll be able to use moves in more rapid succession.

DP: Apparently there’s also a problem people have been having with earning gil, and are unable to advance to try new things as a result.
NK: Guildleves are the best way to earn money, but due to the server problems, players were having problems finishing them. We are thinking of solutions to this problem, such as adding a way to retry failed guildleves. Furthermore, right now, the only person being rewarded for clearing a guildleve is the person who accepts the guildleve, so we’re looking into rewards for party members, as well.


Beta brings changes

DP:
Will the number of playable races increase from alpha to beta?
NK: We plan on having all races included in the final version made playable in the beta. People seemed a little put off that they couldn’t use the Miqo’te (he laughs).

DP: Will there be any graphical changes?
HT: The character textures won’t change, but there will be a lot of lighting and wall-texture changes for Limsa Lominsa. Shadows will change a lot, like the way a shadow is cast based on the direction and distance of the light source causing it. We’ll also be implementing SSAO (Screen Space Ambient Occlusion, the shadow emulation method first used in the PC game Crysis), which should give the game a more three-dimensional feel. Also, we’re trying to make the way the camera focuses in the opening cut scene also useable in the play area.

DP: Do you plan on increasing the area of play in the beta test?
NK: We don’t have any plans to extend the play area that much, but many players are sticking to one area so we’re going to add the option to play in other places and increase the level cap. At the moment, the playable area isn’t being used to the extent that we’d like, so we’d like players to explore a bit more.
HT: There aren’t many players checking out the dungeons, but we’d like some players to go spelunking from time to time. Right now, monsters lose interest in players rather quickly when they run away, but when beta begins, monsters may start to agro. If players are going to go exploring, now would be the time to do it.

DP: The field has a very three-dimensional feel to it, with lots of highs and lows. It feels like a completely different world from FFXI.
HT: Limsa Lominsa is almost too three-dimensional, and many players are getting lost. Right now, the whole map is limited to one screen, but by beta we’ll split the map into higher- and lower-layer sections to make the city easier to navigate.

DP: Why is it that incoming battle log messages from party members come even when the party members are so far away?
NK: The chat and battle log system now is set up to show all the things within the player’s viewable range. FFXI prioritized listing actions by how close they happened to you, where FFXIV battle log focuses on things happening related to your party. We’re trying to make it so you can decide if only you will be able to see the monsters for your guildleve, or have control over other things you want to show or not to show people.

DP: There are also an excessive amount of battle messages coming from people fighting in the vicinity. What about those?
NK: We’d like to add a filter players can use to block the messages they don’t want to see. The filter didn’t see completion by the start of the alpha test, so we’d like to adjust it from here on out.

DP: There’s nothing like FFXI’s mog house in the current test, but will players see something like this later in the game?
NK: In FFXI, the mog house’s role was to act as storage space for the adventurers’ items and a place for job changing, but those won’t be needed this time since jobs are changed by changing weapons and adventurers can hold a great number of items. We wanted to make it so adventurers wouldn’t have to travel back to the city, so we didn’t prepare anything like that for the test.
HT: We do have plans to make something large-scale, like a house, in the future.

DP: Will the bazaar and market system be different from the FFXI auction system?
NK: We wanted to present a system other than a standardized auction system, but this system would get pretty heavy on the server if everyone needed to be logged in at the same time to use it, so we’re trying to make something like a bazaar that can stay up even when you’re logged off.

DP: Do you have any words for your users?
NK: Even though we’ve not been able to show you what we’d like to have shown you by now, we’re very thankful for your positive attitudes while playing. We really want to hear from you, and we’re looking forward to the opinions of the incoming alpha testers and, when the time comes, the many opinions of the beta testers. We want to create this world with your help.
HT: Since this is only the alpha test, we’re able to collect a lot of data with every single login, and we thank you for that. The battle tempo and graphics are about to change drastically, so please look forward to it!
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PostSubject: Re: Dengeki Alpha/Beta Interview   Sun May 30, 2010 4:01 pm

Quote :
Dengeki Interview Part 2: Planner Kenichi Iwao


It’s the little things that make a big world

DP: What are you in charge of for FFXIV?
KI: I have kind of a grab bag of responsibilities. (Iwao laughs.) I make the drafts for the characters, equipment, areas and setting and come up with names. I am in charge of items, guildleves, and other things and their circulation in the game, along with crafting and shops and a lot of other things… quite a wider range than in FFXI.

DP: As far as the world setting, what exactly are adventurers to the world of FFXIV?
KI: In FFXI, right from the beginning you’re sucked into belonging to a starting nation. “From this day forward, you work for us. Good luck.” In FFXIV, you choose which guild you want to belong to, so your freedom to choose your place in society is much broader this time around.

DP: Will these be guilds based on weapons?
KI: There are many guilds, like pugilist guilds and blacksmith guilds, all focused on bringing together the artisans of their trade like the true meaning of a guild, but the guilds for adventurers acts more like a support group, so it’s a bit unique.

DP: What exactly are crystals in the FFXIV world?
KI: In Hydaelyn, everything in the world is made of different balances and imbalances of the six elemental ethers. Crystals, however, are pure physical manifestations of one element. They are a unique existence in this world.

DP: Is aetherite natural or artificial?
KI: The aetherite everyone uses is processed from aetherite that occurs naturally in nature.

DP: What is the “sixth astral era?”
KI: The world’s history is split up into alternating eras of stability and turmoil. The eras of stability are called astral eras, and the eras of turmoil are called spirit disaster eras (Localization will probably call is something different/catchier –Manly). The current era is the sixth of these, called the Sixth Astral Era.

DP:
What exactly are “The Twelve,” the guardian deities of the city-states and players?
KI:
The Twelve in the Eorzean mythology act like those in Greek mythology and have their own personalities. Some of them are easily angered, some of them are caring and nurturing. The people of Eorzea are living in a polytheistic society in which many different values exist.

DP: Each deity has its own characteristics, but how is this reflected in the game?
KI: It appears in many different ways. Each of the twelve is related to an element, and that will most likely come into play. Whether or not you’ll be able to meet these deities is still under wraps (Iwao laughs).

DP: Does all of Hydaelyn believe in the Twelve?
KI: At the very least, the Garlean Empire does not. It is, after all, a faith that originated in Eorzea.

DP: You can choose your guardian deity during character creation, but can you switch during the course of the game?
KI: We’ll probably make it possible, since there are some SERIOUS revelations about the deities during the game (Iwao laughs). There will most likely be a penalty, though.


Eorzea’s map and the world

DP: This is the map of Eorzea, and not the complete world map, correct?
KI: Yes, this is not a map of Hydaelyn.

DP:
Is FFXIV set solely in Eorzea, or will there be ways to communicate or travel to the world outside of Eorzea?
KI:
For the moment, FFXIV is only in Eorzea, but like FFXI, other lands and worlds may be made available later.

DP: Will the war with the Garlean Empire, as seen in the opening movie and trailers, be appearing in FFXIV?
KI: Who knows? Anyway you look at it, this war affects a lot of things in the story (Iwao laughs).

DP:
In the war with the Garlean Empire, will there be player versus player contents like the “Campaign” contents in Wings of the Goddess, where the Beastman Confederate and Allied Forces of Altana fought against each other?
KI:
It’s definitely possible.

DP: Will this be a three-way battle including the adventurers, or will the adventurers be able to align themselves with the Empire?
KI: I wonder (Iwao laughs). Personally, I really think the concept of adventurers being able to choose their place in society is an interesting one… In FFXI, there was no guessing who the enemy was, but in FFXIV, there is a lot of chaos going on right before the beginning of the Crystal War.

DP: Chaos?
KI: There’s a lot going on under the surface that a lot of people aren’t aware of.

DP: Are the flags on the map the city-state flags?
KI: It’s probably best to imagine Eorzea as ancient Greece or medieval Italy, where many large, independent cities grew and thrived. Many cities in Eorzea have had problems with each other in the past, and their relationships now aren’t that great, either. The citizens get along with each other and handle intercity exchange well, though, and there are organizations that exist outside of city-state relations, such as the guilds.

DP: On the bottom left of the map, there are two flags slightly separated from the rest. Does this have something to do with the story?
KI: That’s still a secret (Iwao laughs). But there are a few city-states that have fallen since the map was made, as well as new city-states that have come about. This map still shows the old city-states.

DP: Will city-state territories change over the course of the game?
KI: We’d like to be able to do that, but there are a lot of complications involved. For example, if Ul’dah and Limsa Lominsa get into a territorial war, players who join later in the game won’t be able to enjoy the era of peace the other players could. We’d like to play around with social changes at some point, though.

DP: In the data included with the Eorzean map, the name Roddard Ironheart appears. Was there a reason for using this name? A lot of FFXI players are probably curious about it.
KI: It’s probably just a coincidence (Iwao laughs).

DP: Can you tell us the different special characteristics of the city-states?
KI: Limsa Lominsa is the marine capital like Venice. Ul’dah is a hub city like an oasis, like Palmyra. Gridania is a city surrounded by forests and is like a Mayan city.

DP: So the economy and culture of each city-state will have been cultivated and be unique to its city?
KI: Well, to an extent. There won’t be any drastic differences, since they’re all part of the same cultural sphere.

DP: Will the same guild be available in all city-states, or will the available guilds differ based on the city?
KI: Each guild has a certain city that houses its base of operations, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a presence in each of the cities. There will be things like branch offices. If you want to enjoy fishing in the streams of Gridania, it would be convenient if there were a fishing guild branch there, wouldn’t it? We’re working on addressing this.

DP: Will players be able to play in the gambling areas and fighting arenas of Ul’dah?
KI:
It’s something we’re aiming for.

DP: Other than Aetherite, will there be other modes of transportation, like airships and chocobo?
KI: Of course.

DP: Will adventurers be able to use them?
KI: Yes. For how long and how much experience is needed to use them is still a secret. Chocobo, horse-drawn carriages, ships, and airships will all be in the game.


Monsters and Tribes in the World

DP: Are there NPC like male Miqo’te and female highlanders that you can’t choose as a player?
KI: Yeah, there are. They might appear in certain forms. At this point, I can’t declare that players can’t play as them forever.

DP:
Do monsters like Puk and Dodo from FFXI appear in FFXIV? Is it because the familiarity to users is taken into consideration?
KI: Yes. There will be more monsters which have something to do with FFXI, I think, especially those from after Treasures of Aht Urhgan.

DP: I saw Qiqirn mutual-aid in Limsa Lominsa. Are there monsters that you can communicate with, like Goblins in FFXI?
KI: Oh, yeah, I was thinking about mentioning Qiqirn’s name, but you have already figured it out (Iwao laughs). By the way, there are Apkallus, too. I’d like to have those kinds of communication as much as possible.

DP: Do they appear as NPCs in town?
KI: Maybe in towns, or in fields, too. Moreover, this time, the beast tribes have their own skills, and I think there are things you can learn from them. They have their own opinions, and I’d like to treat them as humans with individuality, not just as humanoid enemies. It’d be fun if players can make and equip weapons which are influenced by their culture.

DP: So there would be more communication with humans/humanoids than in FFXI.
KI: You could say so. There could be some characters that seem to be enemies when they appear but are actually cooperative with humans. I’d like to be flexible about it. On the other hand, there may be humans (the same type of humans as adventurers) that are villanous, and you may have to fight them sometime.

DP: Are there any points you focus on when designing monsters’ appearances?
KI: In many cases, each monster has a concept, and it influences the design. For instance, Spriggans look like children with stones, right? That is the motif for its motions and the reason behind its name.

DP:
From the point of view of Eorzeans, do they perceive the fields as dangerous?
KI: Not really. There are requests like seeking lost cattle. In the beginning of the game, there are very peaceful requests and guildleves. There are even monsters that make you wonder why you’d have to fight them.

DP:
Are there Guildleves in which you would have to kill that kind of monsters?
KI: Yes, I think so. If you think that they are too cute to kill, don’t take that Guildleve (Iwao laughs).


Establishing a world to enchant adventurers

DP: Are there any points that you are careful about when working on the graphics or functions of equipment?
KI: This time, the aim is to have outfits which are a bit deviant from the style of games. Sorcerers in heavy armors, for instance. I can’t guarantee it would be useful though… The emphasis is put on customization, so that you can coordinate many types of equipment to a certain extent. For example, you can choose the color of your equipment.

DP: Seems like there are NPC with hats made of leather and suede. Can we customize fabrics and stuff?
KI: I am happy that you noticed! (Iwao laughs) This world is designed based on numerous material lists, and each thing is made of certain thing. If you are a crafting artisan, you should be able to tell what percentage of a piece of a person’s equipment is made up of what materials just by looking at it.

DP: Can you show others that you made them by yourself like inscriptions in FFXI?
KI: I’d like it to be so. I think it is also very important to show your contribution to the society.

DP: Why there are NPC without names like “exhausted adventurer?”
KI: Because of the intention to show the direct impression, not the name. That case would happen more often to NPCs which don’t really do anything.

DP:
Were there any main points you focused on when you created the world view?
KI: The theme is to create the basis that users can spread their imagination freely. My final goal is to make worlds which can accept all the dramas and back-stories that users have created for themselves and are not described in the game itself.

DP: Are there any points that you want users to keep an eye out for or hear about?
KI: Opinions are welcome all the time. Severe, strict opinions are especially welcome. Well, they do bring me down, though… (Iwao laughs) However, games won’t get better without harsh opinions. So, I am waiting for your strict opinions!
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PostSubject: Re: Dengeki Alpha/Beta Interview   Sun May 30, 2010 8:07 pm

Well there go's the december launch date. Unless they are willing to do it with less polish. no thank you.

Id say add 3 month to beta based on this information alone. Its rare testing ever stays on track, time wise.

I'm just being realist. Don't be mad at me for it. LOL
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PostSubject: Re: Dengeki Alpha/Beta Interview   Sun May 30, 2010 8:38 pm

Don't worry Johny I got the same idea :p I don't think many will be surprised if it gets pushed to sometime around Spring '11, if it doesn't then I may have concerns about whether they're just pushing it out the door too early.
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PostSubject: Re: Dengeki Alpha/Beta Interview   Sun May 30, 2010 9:06 pm

I guess I didn't read what you guys read....I don't see the doom cloud yet
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PostSubject: Re: Dengeki Alpha/Beta Interview   Sun May 30, 2010 9:18 pm

Nor I, don't see nothing but positives. Do remember that SE have an in-house beta team also, look how FFXI turned out; whom was entirely internal tested!

I wouldn't be surprised if the FFXIV beta testing of what little we're being allowed to see is mostly just for show for SE to be part of the crowd and leaks to happen and such, which were expected. Still 5+ months to go before launch, and I'm still optimistic it'll launch on Dec 14th, and should it not...still plenty to do in FFXI until it does!
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PostSubject: Re: Dengeki Alpha/Beta Interview   Sun May 30, 2010 9:28 pm

I'm not saying it's not progressing it just sounds like THEY want to work on it a whole lot more, and from experience it's common for MMOs to get pushed back, and the December 14th day was just an amazon.com guess date was it not? Or was it officially announced sometime afterwards, I don't remember...

Anyway, I think they're progressing along very well, I just don't think it's gonna happen in 5 months considering how much more work and time they're talking about putting into it.

I agree that there's still plenty to do in FFXI to keep us busy! By December the level cap will be at 99, so it'd almost be nice if XIV wasn't released around the same time so people wouldn't have to decide between playing XIV or playing the final add-on and getting to 99, because I'm thinking, for the most part, XI will lose that battle :p
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PostSubject: Re: Dengeki Alpha/Beta Interview   Mon May 31, 2010 10:39 am

I'm not being a fanboi or anything. It just that square is such a secretive company. You can hardly take what they are saying at face value. What they aren't mentioning is the in house testing and so on. It does sound like a lot and I wouldn't be surprised if the date got pushed back into 2011 because that does happen with MMO's but I just know that square isn't like other companies. They don't announce a game until it near completion unlike other companies which will announce the game when they still have 2+ years to ago *cough* funcom *cough*.

Yes it is possible it will get pushed back but don't give up on Square yet.

I don't think square has announced an official release date. I'm waiting on that before I pre-order. I think the 14th is just a date set by Amazon. Amazon could have it right or could be dead wrong. Thats the other thing, how can they push back a release when they haven't announced a date?
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PostSubject: Re: Dengeki Alpha/Beta Interview   Mon May 31, 2010 7:52 pm

So if what i understand correctly you guys are saying they are just bluffing
about server stability and everything is just fine. They are making everyone belive the game is utterly unplayable

That way expectation on a 2010 launch are way low, and the game ends up being totaly awesome when it hits us right in december as amazon predicted.

Double wammy FTW! Sorry for ever second gessing, i feel like such a noob
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PostSubject: Re: Dengeki Alpha/Beta Interview   Mon May 31, 2010 9:06 pm

?! Sarcasm much?! Geez! I don't believe I said that you were totally wrong, just saying not to see the storm clouds yet.
Brialyn Chroi wrote:
Yes it is possible it will get pushed back but don't give up on Square yet.

They are still in Alpha, with two more schedule betas to go if I remember correctly. That is a good amount of "planned" time that they can tweak and adjust the servers. Not to mention that XI has some of the most stable servers of any MMO...I just trust them. SE is not a company that releases info about a game when it is 5, 4, 3, sometimes even 2 years before it's ready. They play things close to the vest and I respect them for that. XIV was already a good deal more solid when they announced it then most other MMO's were when they were launched. Sure they could end up moving the date back into 2011 but I will know that they are doing it for very very good reasons. So I'm not going to get upset over it.
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PostSubject: Re: Dengeki Alpha/Beta Interview   Tue Jun 01, 2010 10:41 pm

I've never seen Johny with that sarcastic edge before it's... different lol

Trying to figure out what SEs plans are is fun to some extent but we all know it's practically guesswork half the time :p I've accepted that whatever happens happens and I'm not going to worry about anything they choose not to officially disclose too much.
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