Last September, Square Enix launched its latest MMO in the Final Fantasy
franchise, Final Fantasy XIV
, to a disastrous reaction -- so bad that the company has yet to begin charging players fees for the game.
In October, Square Enix announced that the game would begin charging
this month or next, and that the game would be upgrading to version 2.0 in 2013.
Gamasutra queried producer Naoki Yoshida, who replaced Square Enix veteran Hiromichi Tanaka
at the project's helm late last year, for more details on this unusual transition.
"The first thing I did when I became the producer and director of Final Fantasy XIV
last December was to ask myself, 'What kind of service system, game content, and community content would be necessary if we were to continue to offer this service 10 years into the future?'" Yoshida says.
"In doing so, I went back and restudied the systems used by other MMOs offered worldwide, such as World of Warcraft
The 2.0 announcement, however, was confusing. If the team is developing a new engine, how can it be the same game?
"Players, community websites, and the gaming media may see the roadmap we have provided and take it as, 'Oh, they’re creating a completely different game,' but this is not the case," says Yoshida. "FFXIV
will always be FFXIV
and nothing else."
The studio has been continually updating the game since launch, and those updates are "all part of the upcoming version 2.0," says Yoshida.
However, he says, "a key development on the technology side is the new engine that will be rolled out for the version 2.0 launch which we are building from the ground up."
"Why build something from the ground up when it already exists? Well, the current engine we are using is good for showing ‘passive graphics’ in offline games, but the most important thing an MMO needs is an ‘active graphics’ capable of showing many, many different characters on the screen simultaneously. This is simply too difficult to accomplish with the current engine," says Yoshida.
The original version of Final Fantasy XIV
was built with Crystal Tools, the engine which also powered the single-player Final Fantasy XIII
. The studio currently has a new engine in development named Luminous, which is being developed under the guiding hand
of the company's French global CTO, Julien Merceron.
The full interview with Yoshida on the relaunch will be published on Gamasutra next week.