Closing Fantasy XI At 20: Devs On Coexisting With XIV, Basic Servers, And Its Lasting Affect

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Few MMORPGs final so long as Closing Fantasy XI, which celebrated its twentieth anniversary in Could. 20 years of energetic service is a monumental achievement for any on-line sport, however particularly one constructed upon the hardcore design of pre-World of Warcraft MMOs that is still strictly subscription-based.

And but, Closing Fantasy XI reveals no indicators of stopping any time quickly, at the same time as Sq. Enix’s different MMO, the award-winning Closing Fantasy XIV, continues to rise in reputation.

The truth is, Closing Fantasy XI’s participant base has grown in the previous few years, and till not too long ago it was Sq. Enix’s most-profitable Closing Fantasy sport (a title Closing Fantasy XIV now holds as of 2021). Within the months main as much as the twentieth anniversary celebration, Closing Fantasy XI even acquired all-new gameplay programs like the brand new Grasp Ranges for post-game gamers, and the continued “Voracious Resurgence” questline, which is the primary new story content material the sport has seen in years.

To get extra perception into Closing Fantasy XI’s continued success, GameSpot interviewed Closing Fantasy XI producer Akihiko Matsui and director Yoji Fujito in regards to the sport’s twentieth anniversary, its enduring legacy, and the probabilities for the way forward for this beloved MMORPG. Translations had been offered by Sq. Enix.

GameSpot: I’ve heard that the preliminary expectations had been that Closing Fantasy XI might solely be energetic for a couple of years. Now, 20 years later, the sport nonetheless has a passionate playerbase. Are you stunned the sport has lasted this lengthy? Why do you assume FFXI stays so common?

Akihiko Matsui, Producer: Due to our gamers, we had been capable of rejoice our twentieth anniversary. I wish to take this chance to sincerely thank everybody at GameSpot, in addition to their readers. Our sport could appear moderately old school and slow-paced these days, however maybe many subsequent MMORPGs have developed too systematically and are unable to supply recent experiences regardless of being new, which I consider could also be why gamers are contemplating Closing Fantasy XI amongst their choices. It is not probably the most user-friendly sport, however we’re helped by the truth that FFXI gamers are consultants in relation to having fun with the sport.

Yoji Fujito, Director: To begin with, I am relieved to have celebrated our twentieth anniversary secure and sound. The years flew by as we perpetually brainstormed our updates for the sport and the right way to go about fulfilling our adventurers’ need for journey, and our twentieth anniversary had arrived earlier than we knew it. To be sincere, I nonetheless cannot consider it has been 20 years, as a result of it feels as if we simply celebrated our tenth and fifteenth anniversaries simply the opposite day.

So, my response to being informed, “It has been 20 years!” is usually “What? No approach!” Relating to why the sport has lasted this lengthy, I consider it is as a result of new content material and changes are being launched frequently, which have been serving to in maintaining the neighborhood engaged.

Talking from private expertise, I’ve observed extra new gamers each in-game and on social media over the previous couple years. Definitely a few of that could be a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and crossover enchantment with Closing Fantasy XIV, however the sport has seen a lift in reputation amongst YouTubers and Twitch streamers as properly. What do you make of common North American content material creators like Maximillian Dood and Tyler “Ninja” Blevins going again to the sport in recent times?

Matsui: As you have identified, the information appears to point the increase was a results of folks staying house attributable to COVID-19, however we additionally noticed an inflow of Western gamers returning to FFXI a bit earlier than that as properly. There might have been different causes, however I consider streamers made a big impression in that facet.

I can solely think about what motivated these streamers to play FFXI, but when I had been to guess, FFXI’s battles are slower-paced in comparison with different trendy MMORPGs and subsequently appropriate for chatting whereas enjoying, and might also have been an effective way for old-school gamers to indicate off their experience to newcomers.

A part of the twentieth anniversary celebration contains the brand new title observe “We Are Vana’diel.” Are you able to inform us in regards to the choice so as to add new title music to the sport and the way the tune got here to be?

Fujito: The event group needed to implement one thing for the twentieth anniversary that might have an apparent significance from a meta perspective as properly. So aside from holding the limited-time anniversary occasion, we determined to extend the variety of title tracks, one thing we might beforehand solely up to date with every enlargement.This I entrusted to our sound director, Naoshi Mizuta. All I would informed him on the time was, “Please compose a marching tune worthy of being known as ‘Vana’diel March Ver.twentieth,'” however the high quality of the music he delivered was far past what I had imagined.

He apparently composed it primarily based on the concept that Vana’diel is formed not solely by the builders however by everybody concerned with FFXI, the selfsame idea that’s symbolized within the title of the twentieth anniversary particular website, “WE ARE VANA’DIEL.” We additionally went with Mizuta’s suggestion to title this rendition of Vana’diel March as “We Are Vana’diel,” which could not have been extra acceptable for the tune.

Closing Fantasy XI was a groundbreaking MMO in some ways, and was even the primary MMO the place PC and console gamers might journey collectively. What do you assume is Closing Fantasy XI’s most vital contribution to the MMO area?

Matsui: I am not conscious of whether or not FFXI contributed something that stood out in comparison with different MMORPGs. But when I needed to title one thing, I would say that it introduced Closing Fantasy to MMORPGs; in different phrases, it established a mode of video games that strongly emphasizes narrative, and contains cutscenes (dramatic scenes) as a part of the expertise even when they make different gamers await the sport to begin. We took on many different challenges as properly, however it’s unclear if that they had any impression. Particularly, I consider it is vital for builders to keep up accountability for operations and updates, however sadly this type does not appear to have had a lot traction.

Closing Fantasy is thought for its highly effective storylines and relatable characters, and Closing Fantasy XI is not any exception. I’m particularly a fan of the Chains of Promathia and Wings of the Goddess expansions. Which storyline is your favourite?

Matsui: I like Treasures of Aht Urhgan, which allowed us so as to add jobs that had been distinctive from a system perspective. We truly had a change of workers members accountable for the story beginning with Treasures of Aht Urhgan which had me nervous throughout growth, however ultimately they had been capable of create a really fantastic story and characters. My favorites are Aphmau and the Serpent Generals. Oh, and we will not overlook President Naja!

Fujito: Personally, I like Wings of the Goddess. The sequence of most important tales about Lilisette are spectacular, after all, however I am particularly keen on the tales surrounding the previous of San d’Oria, Bastok, and Windurst, which evoke nostalgia and stuffed within the blanks I used to be interested by. The music previously areas even have a refined melancholy to their melodies, making the album for this sequence the one I’ve listened to probably the most.

Whereas the sport has seen quite a few expansions and updates that add main new options just like the Belief AI social gathering members or new fight mechanics, I’ve to think about loads of concepts had been left on the chopping room ground. Are you able to inform us about any of the concepts needed to incorporate however could not?

Matsui: To today, I would like to incorporate tutorials and different parts which might be widespread in trendy MMORPGs however would not considerably alter FFXI itself. Earlier than launch, we dreamed of a system that might allow customers to create their very own quests and missions, in order that they may proceed to play with new quests and missions indefinitely. As a component that is perhaps essential to make such an concept a actuality, I additionally had concepts for a function that might permit gamers to put objects on the sphere.

One of the vital components of Closing Fantasy XI’s legacy is its affect on Closing Fantasy XIV. Clearly FFXI and FFXIV are two very completely different video games, however followers typically examine the 2 nonetheless. What’s it like having two MMOs in the identical franchise?

Matsui: The belief very, very early on was that Closing Fantasy XIV would inherit FFXI’s prospects, after which FFXI would quietly finish its position. Nonetheless, the requirements for MMORPGs throughout the launch of FFXI and FFXIV had been too completely different, and the video games ended up with very distinct types. If FFXIV had been a simple improve to FFXI, I consider there would’ve been no qualms with terminating FFXI’s service.

Each video games have massive crowds of devoted followers and are worthwhile, so I do not see an issue with the present state of affairs. At a time when few sport corporations are working MMORPGs, I personally assume it is fairly superior that we’re creating and working three main MMORPG titles, together with Dragon Quest X.

Many gamers look again fondly on the “Stage 75-era” of the sport. Have you ever ever thought-about including “traditional” servers like different long-running MMOs like World of Warcraft, or including non-obligatory content material degree caps for gamers that wish to expertise Closing Fantasy XI gameplay from that point?

Matsui: I am skeptical about traditional servers, particularly as a result of I do not assume they’re viable from a enterprise standpoint.

For instance, within the case of FFXI, the price of establishing and working a traditional server would require us to cost a a lot larger charge for it than the primary service. Whereas it’s extremely comprehensible that somebody would possibly wish to take a fast look again on the experiences of the time, however the associated fee is simply too excessive. As such, we hope gamers can proceed to benefit from the present service. Then again, if gamers want to problem sure content material on the most degree of the time, I consider that might be one thing value contemplating.

One other common MMO, Dragon Quest X, not too long ago introduced an offline model of its sport. Do you assume Closing Fantasy XI might work as an offline model to maintain it ongoing sooner or later? I do know many gamers would admire having a approach to expertise the story and world differently.

Fujito: We perceive the demand for offline variations and remakes, as we have acquired requests for them from varied components of the neighborhood. Doing so, nonetheless, would merely imply that the sport would develop into one thing else completely, and wouldn’t be a recreation of FFXI as gamers have envisioned it.

I actually am involved that this would be the solely title within the Closing Fantasy sequence that can’t be loved as soon as the service inevitably involves an finish someday within the distant future. How one can protect the sport individually from the primary service is a significant matter that must be thought-about, however no less than for now whereas the service remains to be energetic, I hope gamers will take pleasure in Vana’diel in its current type.

Thanks once more for taking the time to talk with us!

Matsui: Thanks for this chance. We now have had a rise and return of Western customers for a number of years now, and that has been a tailwind for the FFXI group. It could be fantastic if you happen to might proceed to tackle the position of speaking with the Western FFXI neighborhood. I wish to sincerely thank all of the Western avid gamers who had been enjoying alongside me again after I was enjoying EverQuest who confirmed me simply how a lot enjoyable MMORPGs may very well be.

Fujito: Thanks too, for giving us the chance to do that interview!

I’ve been engaged on this title for 20 years, however it appears like only some years in the past when the service began. Earlier than I knew it, I used to be married and my kids had been in elementary college. And after I celebrated my birthday the opposite day, I noticed that precisely 40% of my life has been concerned within the growth and operation of this title.

On this approach, I really feel as if FFXI is really part of myself. I’ve grown alongside FFXI and can cherish it for a very long time to come back. I hope you’ll keep your curiosity in FFXI. Thanks very a lot.

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