I was going to call this article “Final Fantasy XI directors discuss where they went wrong” but the MMO is the franchise’s most profitable title, so let’s go with “how we could have made even more massive amounts of money”.
In a tenth anniversary interview on the Square Enix blog, director Mizuki Ito and associate director Yoji Fujito discussed their long associations with the long-live MMO, including what they would change if they could.
Ito said the game’s fiction, which explicitly states that there are only five races, led to development choices which now make it difficult to expand the game.
“This design is at the very basis of how the world is presented, so unfortunately we can’t introduce new races,” he said.
“Adding new races would upset the balance of the world and it would be costly from a development perspective as we’d also need to build all the equipment for these new races, but at the very least this aspect could have benefitted from a little more flexibility.”
Fujito said he’d like to have better catered to solo players; Final fantasy XI is notoriously grindy in early sections if players can’t group up, and for many years made grouping something of a headache.
“I would like to have seen more gameplay that caters to single players. I’m talking about the ‘3 Nation’ missions in particular as perhaps it would’ve been better if you could play all the way up until the Shadow Lord, regardless of your job,” he said.
“We also got universal feedback saying that Synergy should have been made easier for the player. I would also prefer to make Evolith easier to understand by completely changing the system here. Speaking of which, I’d love to see a small increase in movement speed as well as in the battle tempo, especially to make fighting smaller mob enemies a little more fun. The list goes on.”
Not that these minor limitations have stopped the rabid fanbase from loyally sticking by the MMORPG.