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Final Fantasy 14′s focus on visuals hurt end product, Yoshida explains how it bounced back

Thursday, 20th March 2014 10:54 GMT By Dave Cook

Final Fantasy 14 producer Naoki Yoshida gave an insightful GDC presentation yesterday that discussed why the original MMO failed to meet expectations initially, and how his team worked to remedy the matter with A Realm Reborn. One sticking point was the first game’s emphasis on visuals.

Siliconera reports that Yoshida felt that a focus on visuals caused the development team to get its priorities wrong. Here’s a slide that compares both versions of the game:

final_fantasy_14_gdc

As you can see, that one plantpot had the same poly count as a character model in A Realm Reborn. Yoshida added that the team felt series fans would be disappointed if the MMO didn’t match the visual benchmark set by previous Final Fantasy titles. He stressed that Square Enix had so much success in this area of the years that the team was perhaps afraid to shift priorities.

The company eventually decided to re-work the title as Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn. Yoshida revealed that his team kept the game’s preface to re-earn the trust of gamers who felt let down by the first version. It was a race against the clock, he said, as interest in the first version was dwindling while A Realm Reborn was being made in tandem.

A Realm Reborn’s development took two years and eight months, Yoshida revealed, which is a drastically short time compared to other MMOs out there, and was fuelled by 400 key design designs noted by the producer. It was a priority check-list essentially, that was systematically remedied to bring the game up to speed. He also studied other MMOs in order to prioritise content and play over visuals. THis part of the process lasted two months.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn eventually released on August 27th last year, and it is now pulling in strong player numbers and appraisals from the critical press.

Yoshida closed on this slide:

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Are you happy with the way Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn turned out? Let us know below.

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1 Comments

  1. TheWulf

    It’s not just that, it’s that they focused more on fidelity than aesthetics, so the end result is that despite the many years between them, Final Fantasy XI is actually still the better looking game. They tamed and toned down everything, they made it all grey and homogeneous, thinking that’s what a Western audience would actually want from it.

    Instead, we had cheap knock offs of the races from FF XI. Why play a bad imitation of a Galka when I can just play a Galka? FF XI is still more colourful, visually interesting, and fun to explore. The problem, I think, is that Square-Enix has forgotten how to do aesthetics, they’re all about the fidelity now. And their games are sucking for it — the more they’ve focused on fidelity, the more their games have sucked.

    Their games were the best around the Super Nintendo era, then they sort of wobbled around the PSone. FF VII was okay, but it dwelled too much on melancholy and angsty-angsting and dark themes, FF VIII wasn’t great at all (the most boring RPG of that era), and FF IX was absolutely stunning. It was a gem in the rough that I don’t think anyone was expecting.

    Then when the PS2 rolled around, the Final Fantasy games just bottomed out. I mean, I guess X-2 was okay, but the rest of them were just bloody terrible. They had some of the least likeable heroes ever. Tidus, Vaan, et al. Zidane had more character in the tip of his pinky than Tidus and Vaan had between them. And more’s the pity.

    It’s just gotten worse since then, more fidelity, more fidelity, more fidelity! No passion, no soul, no character. Where did the Vivi’s, the Zidane’s, and the Steiner’s go? I mean, FF IX was so, so great. It’s possibly the most loved Final Fantasy other than FF VI. So why hasn’t Square (Square-Enix, rather) gotten the message? Sigh.

    And FF XI was the same. FF XI had loads of problems, but it was at least visually interesting. FF XIV is one of the most visually boring games they’ve created yet. No colour, no personality, no… warmth.

    You know, I was playing this unknown Japanese MMO named Eden Eternal the other day. I wasn’t too fond of the gameplay because it was too similar to WoW, and not my thing. But visually it was so lovely, and it did much to remind me of why I loved Japanese games in the first place. They always had this personality and warmth to them, there was hope, and happiness, and someone could always look on the bright side even at the darkest of times. It was a a real blast from the past.

    I miss that. I really miss that.

    #1 8 months ago

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