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