Interview: Naoki Yoshida sheds new light on Final Fantasy XVI


For those who are interested in learning more about the much-anticipated Final Fantasy XVI, your wait is over.

Like us, you’ve probably drilled holes in every text, every screenshot, and trailer since the game was announced in 2020. We got the first information about its world and character and most recently, we got a closer look at the gameplay as well as those all-important release windows. Producer Naoki Yoshida has guided us through all three here on PS.Blog.

Now, we’ve been able to ask Yoshida-san to draw a screen (a little) on the development of the game. Here, developing the PlayStation 5, answering the call to create the latest Mainline Final Fantasy title, we got his personal perspective, among other things. Let’s get it.

Naoki Yoshida, producer of Final Fantasy XVI

PlayStation.Blog: What do you think are the basic principles of an ultimate fantasy game? Did the development team look at past titles in the series for guidance or inspiration when creating FFXVI?

Naoki Yoshida: I would say the main elements of a Final Fantasy game are a deep story, deep gameplay, sophisticated graphics and cutting-edge sound … as well as of course chocobose and moguls.

In the 35-year history of the Final Fantasy series, it has always been the guiding principle that each new installment should be the best game that the director can put together at that time, changing the game world, characters or combat system. Because of this, gamers around the world and fans of Final Fantasy have very different ideas about what a Final Fantasy game should be – but to me, these are the elements I mentioned.

“Each new installment must be the best game the director can put together at that time.”

When deciding what to do with Final Fantasy XVI, I thought about playing Final Fantasy X, and remembered how I was playing a major role in a motion picture. I wanted to recapture that feeling in the XVI, but the latest in sophisticated game design and modern technology. The whole development team, led by Hiroshi Takai, has come together to make that dream a reality, so I hope you all look forward to it.

PSB: Thinking back to the beginning of the FFXVI project, do you remember how the conversation went when you were asked to create this new mainline entry? What was your initial reaction?

NY: I said, “Thanks, but I have my hands full with Final Fantasy XIV, so let me think about it.” I was really honored that the company would choose my division, Creative Business Unit 3, for the next entry in the FF series. But, as you probably know, I’m already the producer and director of Final Fantasy XIV. I was worried that if I took over as the director of XVI, there would be good reason for fans of both games to believe that I was not giving my full attention to any project.

To ensure that the development of XVI does not affect XIV, we selected a very small group of core team members to start with and over the years, slowly and carefully transferred them to start new work. Play, until we get the whole team together.

PSB: How was the rest of the FFXVI development team formed?

NY: Being the director of an ultimate fantasy game is harder than most people imagine. Not only do you have the expectations of the fans and the media, you are also under constant pressure from the development team. You always have to be ready for the challenge.

I’ve worked with Hiroshi Takai for many years, and he’s one of my most trusted colleagues, as well as an experienced developer, so I asked him if he would take the role – and thankfully, he agreed. That’s how it all started. We brought two more members to the group, and among the four of us, we sketched out the main concepts of the game and its world, as well as the main themes we wanted to cover, and started writing the main story. . Subsequently, we brought a few more members on board to take charge of the combat system and graphics, and through the process of creating what worked and canceling what didn’t, we gradually moved to full-scale development. And all the while, behind my back I thought, “Please don’t let this affect Final Fantasy XIV!”

PSB: Talking specifically about the storytelling process (not the narrative), how did it feel to transform from a multi-year, multi-dimensional arc to a self-contained, distinct story?

NY: I’ve worked on games that haven’t been MMORPG before, so it wasn’t a big hit. Also, each new Final Fantasy XIV expansion has the same level of new story content as a standalone RPG, or more, so it wasn’t too different from my work in that game. The only major difference I noticed was that if I had to make some predictions, I would have to pay for it much faster!

PSB: Each Final Fantasy logo somehow reveals the main theme of the game. How does the Final Fantasy XVI logo do it?

NY: Yoshitaka Amano’s design for the logo is as meaningful as you might expect. It shows the two icons facing each other … and the rest, for the time being, is confidential.

PSB: After the debut of FFXVI’s new “Dominance” trailer during State of Play, we finally have a release window! Where will the development team focus their efforts in this final year before the game launches?

NY: At the moment, the game is fully playable from start to finish, but we have a lot of voiceovers in several languages ​​that still need to be recorded. Final Fantasy XVI is a very action-packed game, so we’re doing a lot of plate-testing to fine-tune the difficulty levels, as well as the final touches to the cutscenes and go through a full-scale debugging process. A year is a short time for game development, so we’re all pushing it a bit to get it on line.

PSB: It has now been confirmed that some Final Fantasy XIV Dave team members (including you!) Are working on FFXVI – do you have specific systems or mechanisms to ensure that teams can perform to the best of their ability in two separate games? Without burning themselves (or themselves)? I imagine a lot of work on the XVI must be happening at the same time as preparing for the final FFXIV endwalker.

NY: I wouldn’t call it a system one by one, but the project managers and co-producers of both projects do a great job of planning my schedule so I don’t get overwhelmed. I wouldn’t have a clue how to keep myself organized without them!

I try to leave any decision regarding the overall management of the department in the hands of the top management as much as possible, which allows me to concentrate on my work as a producer and director. Instead of a specific system or a process, it is the feeling of teamwork that we have created over the years. Masayoshi Soken has his own people in the sound department who manage his schedule for him.

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PSB: Two-part Q: What is your favorite recurring summons from the Final Fantasy series as a whole and why? What is your favorite summons in Final Fantasy XVI and why?

NY: It has to be Bahamut for me. He not only destroys his enemies, but the ground on which they stand – even the whole planet! Every time he appears, you know that something incredible is going to happen. It also helps that he is a big part of the story of Final Fantasy XIV. As for the summonses in Final Fantasy XVI, I have a preference, but I can’t tell you right now because it’s bound to be the result of a lot of speculation. I can tell you that they are all as great as hell!

PSB: The new “Dominance” trailer has teased more music for the game Masayoshi Soken has now been confirmed as the composer of FFXVI, can you share any insights into the music of the trailer? Is the music we heard in the trailer made just for this beat, or does it have the theme and litmotif that we can expect to hear throughout the game?

NY: Not all the music is over yet, but Soken is the kind of composer who likes to reuse parts of the in-game soundtrack in the trailer. I’m sure you’ve heard of some themes and motifs that will make their way into in-game music in the latest trailer. You’ll need to invite Soken for an interview to find out more — but please, only once he’s finished work on the soundtrack!

PSB: What are some of the opportunities provided by PlayStation 5 hardware that would not have been possible in previous generations?

NY: With the increase in processing power, we can obviously enrich the graphics more than ever before, but it is the extremely fast loading time that really fascinates me. In Final Fantasy XVI, you jump straight into the real-time battle from the story’s cutscene and return without any loading time, allowing the gameplay to flow at a terrifying pace. It’s only thanks to the power of the PlayStation 5 system that we can build the Final Fantasy XVI as a roller-coaster ride.

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