Naoki Yoshida would like to update the visuals in Final Fantasy XIV but it would require a ton of planning.
Final Fantasy XIV is one of the most beautiful MMORPGs out there right now. Even though A Realm Reborn came out in 2013, it still holds up very well. During my interview with Naoki Yoshida at E3 2019, I asked him if the team was interested at all in making improvements to the game’s visuals. Yoshida-san said:
Of course, I understand that with the different MMORPGs some of them have become old. We see many titles that have released in the past and some that reflect the graphics depiction in sort of updated ways as time goes. I’m sure people do want to see the graphical quality improve in the game. I totally understand that. From that perspective, yes, we would love to eventually update the graphics so we can continue to claim that Final Fantasy XIV has world class graphics while being an MMORPG. The simple answer is, yes, there’s always that desire.
While the team may want to upgrade the visuals of Final Fantasy XIV, Yoshida-san said that visual changes would only happen if the team took on a huge amount of work. On top of their current schedule, it would come with its own fair share of issues to overcome. In that regard, Yoshida-san said:
…there are two major issues with it. Even now, we strive to have high-quality visuals. It is very detailed, very vivid, we made sure the quality’s already high. When we think of rendering this to still look beautiful on a 4K monitor, making sure that the texture doesn’t become degraded, adding more polygons in our models, of course, it’s not impossible to do but we currently have a patch upgrade cycle. We release a major patch or update every three and a half months or so, and all of the gear we design and the content we build is part of that cycle.
It is quite aggressive even now so if we add on top of that the workflow for making our graphics depiction advanced it will add to the cost that is required. We would have to add to the workflow as well and not just cost in terms of bandwidth, time as well, it’s not a matter of just adding additional people who can resolve this issue. It is quite a tough predicament. If we were to start considering upgrading the graphics into our normal development schedule, I’d be very worried about our cycle.
Obviously, MMORPGs are incredibly vast, containing large amounts of content as well as gear and character models that vary greatly when compared to one another. All things considered, improving the visuals would almost be like creating an entirely new game. Therefore, it’s understandable that while the desire is there it may not be feasible at the moment. Yoshida-san also said that they have to consider each and every player in the game:
The other issue is that the machines the players use. People play on PC and PS4. With PS4 we are already seeing our next generation on the horizon. We may be able to accommodate those. With PC machines, once we raise the quality of the graphics, some people might not be able to update their PCs to meet the requirements of that graphical depiction. Of course, we do allow players to change the configuration and cut out some of the options so we may accommodate a wide range of devices.
By raising the quality a bit higher we may unintentionally exclude people by having such an increased quality. Which is completely defeating the purpose, we want people to enjoy the game. We can’t plan for it on a whim, we have to be very meticulous, we have to make detailed plans for it. Including, how are we going to set up our workflow, how are we going to have our pipeline set up, how are we going to code based the deadlines we need to meet? How do we create a pipeline to make a massive amount of assets in the game?
Of course, I’d love to be able to upgrade the graphics at some point but it will require a lot of planning. We’re exhausted from Shadowbringers so we want to launch that and maybe then we’ll consider our options.
With other MMORPGs coming out since A Realm Reborn launched as well as Blizzard’s World of Warcraft Classic actually reverting to the older style some players prefer, I was interested in finding out if Yoshida-san and his team wanted to make some sort of visual changes to the game as a whole. As time goes on the game may look more and more dated. However, it is worth pointing out that MMO players are often of a different mindset, sticking with one game over long periods of time regardless of the visual quality. For example, people stuck with Final Fantasy XI for years and years after its initial launch. I’m confident the same will occur with Final Fantasy XIV.
In case you missed it, Yoshida-san also commented on the fact that there’s no new healer job in the game’s latest expansion, Shadowbringers. Additionally, he talked a little bit about a potential collaborative even with the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Remake in Final Fantasy XIV. You can expect the full interview to go live sometime this week.
Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers launched a few days ago on both PS4 and PC. You can buy it right now over on Amazon if you’d like.
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