Greetings, everyone!

We're pleased to present the full Q&A digest from the Letter from the Producer LIVE Part XIX! If you missed the live stream, or if you just want to watch it again (and again), check it out below! Please note that there will not be subtitles added the LIVE letter.
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Letter from the Producer LIVE Part XIX Q&A

Q: The Zodiac weapons are named after the classic weapons from past FINAL FANTASY titles, but a lot of them have changed in both design and weapon type. What was the reason for these changes?
A: We decided on the final form of the Zodiac weapons at the time we started planning the Zodiac weapon quests. Let’s take “Excalibur” for example. We named it this way because we wanted to base this weapon’s name off of the classic weapon from the FF series as much as possible. However, due to the fact that in previous FINAL FANTASYs the “fantasy” portion involved a lot of swords and magic, many of the legendary-grade weapons were swords. FINAL FANTASY XIV is a game designed around the idea that there are various weapons used by various jobs, so instead of limiting ourselves based on what was done for past FINAL FANTASY games, we adopted fitting names for each of the “ultimate weapons.” By naming the axe “Ragnarok” we believe that this will allow future FINAL FANTASY games that feature axes the opportunity to use the name again. I believe that ensuring that we keep the name in use is part of protecting the past traditions of the series.

In regards to the design itself, even if we were to make 3D models based on weapons used back then, it’s likely that they wouldn’t look very ultimate weapon-like, and therefore we adjusted them to be a bit more modern. For example, we gave the name Ragnarok to the type of axe that might elicit the image of the Norse mythology’s end of days battle.

I believe it’s the duty of a numbered FINAL FANTASY game to make new traditions for FINAL FANTASY.

Q: Please tell us the name of Patch 2.5.
A: “Before the Fall” is the title of Patch 2.5. You may also notice the return of the meteor icon there.

The final upheaval will take place as we head towards 3.0 and an epic finale is waiting for you. As I have mentioned in previous interviews, Patch 2.5 is split into three sections. The patch itself will be contained within two parts, and there will be a patch between them. The reason we took this approach is because we wanted to ensure that the story leads straight up to 3.0. We didn’t want to make everyone wait several months after viewing the climax, so we made sure everything moves swiftly. However, most of the battle content will be in the first part of the patch.
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First, the main scenario: two thirds of the overall story will be revealed in Part 1. Hildibrand’s story will come to a close and whether or not it continues in the future will be up to all of you. For new dungeons, we have “The Keeper of the Lake,” “The Wander’s Palace (Hard),” and “Amdapor Keep (Hard).” In fact, the Keeper of the Lake plays an important part in the main scenario. The Crystal Tower series will also come to a conclusion, sending adventurers to a place known as the “World of Darkness.”

We’ll also be introducing the “Urth’s Fount” battle for those who didn’t have a chance to battle Odin during the Fan Festival events. Gilgamesh will return, but I won’t say any more than that. For Frontline, the map is the same but we’ve added a new type of Frontline battle with a completely different set of rules. The existing Frontline will be added as a roulette which you’ll receive daily bonuses for, so please try it out. We will also have new achievement rewards, a new Free Company estate feature known as an aetherial wheel, new recipes, and much more.
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Patch 2.51 will be implemented before the release of Before the Fall part two. Patch 2.51 will introduce the Gold Saucer, which we’ll be showing a bit shortly. I believe some of you may have already completed your Zodiac weapons, but there is actually one more phase in the 2.0 series. After Patch 2.51, the main scenario will conclude and build toward the release of Heavensward and a new type of encounter where you’ll need to aid in the defense of Ishgard will be added. All of these things make up Patch 2.5 - Before the Fall.

Q: Where will the next Crystal Tower content take place?
A: The adventure will continue in the World of Darkness.

Q: Will the rewards for the new chapter of Crystal Tower include the materials needed to enhance Ironworks equipment?
A: Due to the fact that there were both soldiery equipment upgrade materials and Crystal Tower equipment in Patch 2.3’s Syrcus Tower, this caused players to think long and hard about which item they wanted to obtain because of the weekly lock out. We’ve reflected on this and decided to make a system for Patch 2.5’s the World of Darkness that will allow players to obtain the Ironworks equipment upgrade material and the unique equipment from the World of Darkness separately each week.

Q: Will there be any weapon rewards for the new Crystal Tower content? Can you show us the graphics for the equipment?
A: The rewards for the World of Darkness will be armor for each class, but additionally there will be materials that can be crafted into new weapons. We’ll have every type of weapon available, so please check them out.

*The video shows off images of the equipment designs.

Q: Will additional fees be required in addition to our monthly subscription to access all the content in the Gold Saucer?
A: No additional fees will be required. Since FINAL FANTASY XIV is available in many countries, implementing the Gold Saucer with those kinds of features would be extremely difficult and something we would need to be very cautious about. Each country has its own laws, so if the Gold Saucer looked like an online casino in any specific country, then we wouldn’t be able to offer service in that country and as such we took extra care in this regard during development.

Basically, we’re creating the Gold Saucer to be similar to an arcade. You can use gil to purchase Manderville Gold Saucer Points, but that will only get you so far. If the initial limit you can reach with gil is set to 2,000 points, for example, you can buy your way up to 2,000 points and would then need to play games to earn more points beyond that. And if you purchase 2,000 points and then use 1 point on a game and are left with 1,999 points, you can purchase that 1 point back with gil. With that said, you won’t be able to redeem any prizes for just 2,000 points, so you’ll need to play games to earn more. The system is completely independent of the market, so you won’t be able to sell them. You’ll have to play on your own and earn the points yourself. We designed the Gold Saucer so that everyone can enjoy it, regardless of how much gil they have.

The lighting isn’t finished in this Gold Saucer introduction video so there are some NPCs that may look a bit dark. The Gold Saucer in FFXIV is named the “Manderville Gold Saucer” and it won’t be long until you learn why. Inside you’ll be able to take part in attractions that range from small to large. First you’ll purchase Manderville Gold Saucer Points at the center hall. Next, this is an area where you get to play Triple Triad, taking on other players and NPCs.

The Gold Saucer is huge and those constructs that help you maneuver around inside are actually part of the attractions. Previously we mentioned the term “Gold Saucer Active Time Event.” Once this event is activated a jumping game will start where you need to race the clock to the top by jumping to the designated location. There will also be a free throw-like mini-game. We’re not stopping at 2.51 and we’re planning to add new attractions in the future. There is a wide variety of NPCs, from adults to kids, so it’s set up to be a place where everyone can have fun. We also have a dance event area. There will even be a weekly cactuar lottery where you’ll be able to purchase any number you like with points. If your number matches the weekly lottery, you’ll win a big bonus. Also, this isn’t shown in the video but the chocobo racing area is located here and you’ll be able register to participate in the races.

Triple Triad and chocobo racing will both make their debut in Patch 2.51. While these are the two main attractions, we would like everyone to enjoy the various mini-games and special events as well!

Q: Can you show us a teaser of what we can obtain in the Gold Saucer?
A: Hayashi introduced some female-specific equipment at the Developer’s Panel on the first day of the Fan Festival, but we’ve prepared another gear set that will allow players to look just like a certain character that made an appearance in the FINAL FANTASY series. Also, when it comes to chocobo racing, players will obtain a new fledgling that’s separate from their chocobo companion, and players will be able to race by raising it.

Participating in races will increase your chocobo’s level, and just like point allotment, it will be possible to allocate points to certain stats. For example, players can raise stamina or speed and the like. Chocobo feed is required to allocate points, but that feed is obtained by trading points, and some of it can be made by Disciples of the Hand. Chocobos will retire after participating in a lot of races, but following this, it's possible to breed them. Players can raise a chocobo until their stats reach the maximum level or have them learn abilities that can be used during races and passed on to the next generation. It will also be possible to form a party of eight people and hold races within a free company.

Also, with respect to Manderville Gold Saucer points, it’s not a casino, so we haven’t really given much thought to how much gil will be needed to purchase points. It’s balanced in a way that points will build up little by little as you play, so please have fun with it.

*The video shows images of the reward designs.

Q: Will it be possible to compete against other players in Triple Triad?
A: Just as I introduced to you all in the walkthrough video, there is a competition located in the Manderville Gold Saucer where it will be possible to face-off against other players in FINAL FANTASY XIV’s Triple Triad. However, there are people who are new to the FF series and many people of a younger generation who started out with FINAL FANTASY X, so I’ll give a brief overview of Triple Triad.
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Triple Triad is a card-based mini-game that was introduced in FINAL FANTASY VIII.
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Triple Triad is a simple game, where players decide who goes first and then place a card on any open space of a 3x3 board. The goal of the game is to obtain your opponent's cards. There are four numbers—arranged in a square—on the upper-left of the card that correspond to the sides of the card. When you play a card next to your opponent's, the value of the touching sides is compared. If your number is higher, you'll obtain your opponent's card. For example, let's say Yoshida plays a card with "3" on the left side at the center of the board. His opponent then places a card to the left of his, with a "4" on its right side. In that case, Yoshida's number is lower, so he loses his card. This process is repeated until the match ends, when the player with the most cards at the end wins. The rules are simple, but a lot of strategy is involved.
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We’ve prepared all sorts of methods of obtaining cards for FINAL FANTASY XIV’s Triple Triad. In fact, various NPCs around Eorzea play Triple Triad, and by challenging them to a match and winning, players will obtain cards. However, they possess a large number of cards, so it won’t be very easy to get rare cards from them. Players can also obtain cards in exchange for Gold Saucer points. Roughly two-thirds of the cards can be obtained by playing matches with NPCs and trading Gold Saucer points, but there will also be cards that drop from dungeons and other battles. At the start of Patch 2.51, there will be a total of eighty cards that are available. As new patches are released, new cards will be added, including cards with the same design as those that already exist in-game, but have different numbers in the upper-left corner.

Additionally, cards featuring the “Legendary” FF series characters from “Dissidia FINAL FANTASY” that were designed by Tetsuya Nomura will be obtainable in various places. A particular icon will be displayed over the heads of NPCs that can be challenged to a Triple Triad match, so one quick look will allow players to identify them. If an NPC has already been beaten by a player, the icon will change to a “defeated” icon, so players will know whether or not they have beaten a certain NPC before. There is an achievement that can be received by defeating every NPC that has this specific icon, but there are a few hidden NPCs above which the icon will not be displayed.
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FINAL FANTASY VIII was an offline game, so players could only have matches with NPCs. However, now it will be possible for players to have matches with each other. With that said, players will not be able to take cards away from one another. Players will simply be competing to see who is stronger. Tournaments will also be held at the Gold Saucer, and there will be cards that are awarded to players who win a certain number of matches each week.

Additionally, since players will be able to challenge each other, the rules can be customized to a very high degree. There were many people who expressed their desire to see a card mini-game so we really put our all into fine tuning it. We hope you enjoy it!

Q: The Keeper of the Lake is a place I’ve been really curious about for a long time. What kind of dungeon will this be?
A: During FFXIV: ARR’s main scenario, there was a flashback scene with Gaius which showed the confrontation between the great wyrm Midgardsormr and the imperial dreadnaught the Agrius which ended with the two crashing down together into Mor Dhona. The structure formed from the entangled remains of the wyrm and the wreckage of the Agrius is called the Keeper of the Lake, and the dungeon will at long last take you inside. It’s all related to the main scenario, so I can’t tell you any more than this, but there are some major events that await the Warrior of Light.

There’s also the Wanderer’s Palace (Hard), which will show the tonberries in a new light and feature the involvement of Mamool Ja as well. You'll want to look forward to what happens after you’ve defeated the boss, too. The music is astounding!

*The video shows off The Keeper of the Lake, Amdapor Keep (Hard), and Wanderer’s Palace (Hard) dungeons.

Q: Will the demon wall make an appearance again in Amdapor Keep (Hard)?
I believe you saw a glimpse of him there at the end. “Amdapor Keep (Hard)” will have a different atmosphere and battle pacing than the other instance dungeons. While there won’t be any falling off edges this time around, players will have to contend with four demon walls. We’ve gathered your feedback and prepared all sorts of fun things, so I think there may be some people who say "Oh, I get it!" when they realize what it's all about.

Q: What was the reasoning behind implementing Wanderers' Palace (Hard) and Amdapor Keep (Hard) over hard versions of, say, Dzemael Darkhold and the Aurum Vale?
A: When we were making FFXIV: ARR we redesigned the regulations for making dungeons to account for the new battle system and cameras; however, this didn't apply to dungeons designed for 1.0. As the FFXIV: ARR storyline would connect to the story from 1.0, we shortened these 1.0 dungeons as much as possible and made adjustments to fit the regulations of FFXIV: ARR, which is what you see with Dzemael Darkhold and the Aurum Vale. However, there are limitations to what we can do, and in the event that we wanted to add a hard mode, it would require roughly the same amount of resources as creating a brand-new dungeon. For this reason, we do not have any plans to make hard modes for the dungeons originally designed for 1.0.

Q: What sort of progress has been made on the DirectX 11 front?
A: I’d mentioned before that I wanted to show you something by year’s end, so our graphics programmers gave it their all to prepare footage for Fan Fest. Here are some videos showing the current state things are in. Please keep in mind that by going from DirectX 9 to DirectX 11, you won't necessarily see any obvious dramatic changes. Rather, the differences pertain to some of the finer aspects of the game's graphical quality, but let's take a look at the slides.
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The left side is the current game running DirectX 9, and the right side is the DirectX 11 version. By using tessellation, it’s possible to create a more realistic three-dimensional portrayal of shimmering water than with DirectX 9, in which water effects were drawn on a single plane.
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This can be seen in a variety of places throughout the game. It was impossible with DirectX 9, but with DirectX 11 you’ll be able to see reflected lights and even character reflections in finely polished floors.
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This is probably the easiest difference to see. You’ll be able to see light refract and waver when hitting water.
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The SSAO (screen space ambient occlusion) used with DirectX 11 has been upgraded, allowing for shadows and details that add more depth and realism to the objects depicted in-game.
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The depiction of rugged surfaces has been vastly improved. The Ul'dahn terrain seen in this slide shows a significant difference despite using the same amount of resources. The difference is quite remarkable in dungeons as well. In addition, players will find that DirectX 11 will be less resource-intensive for GPUs that support it. In some cases this will also result in an improved frame rate.
Furthermore, with the DirectX 11 version, characters will be rendered with uncompressed textures, making them look even more impressive. The visual quality of objects in the background has also improved, and even the texture of characters’ skin will look more realistic.

The DirectX 11 client will be released at the same time as Heavensward. After the release, players will be able to choose between the DirectX 9 version and the DirectX 11 version. There’s no need to purchase the package again—if the DirectX11 client is downloaded and installed, players will be able to play in DirectX 11 with the UI settings and such exactly as they are now. We plan to add even more features that make use of DirectX 11 in the future.

*The video shows a comparison of the DirectX 9 version and a work-in-progress DirectX 11 version.

Special Guest: Sound Director Masayoshi Soken

Q: Can you add special music for Sleipnir and other mounts?
A: Soken: The time we have to make music is limited as it is, so if we were to make additional mount music, it would probably have to be made in place of something else, but if you give me some time it’s possible. I’ll do my best to at least get Terra’s theme in.

Q: Can you add a jukebox-like furnishing that allows us to select the music for our Free Company house?
A: Yoshida: I think this kind of item would be a nice addition. Just the other day I was looking over documents for an item named “Orchestrion.” It said you’ll be able to obtain songs in some way and play them whenever you want. After this is implemented we're planning to add new songs for it with each patch.

Soken: If there's a spec document for a jukebox, then we can add it.

Yoshida: We're aiming to implement the Orchestrion in Patch 3.0 or 3.1.

Q: I've always enjoyed how battle music changes for each area. Will there be completely new battle music for the Ishgard areas in the expansion? Or will they be different arrangements of the current battle music?
A: Soken: It'll be all new music.

Q: I really like the Ultima song so much that I listen to it over and over. What language are the lyrics in?
A: Soken: It kills me to be the bearer of bad news, but we have special software for generating sounds that resemble vocals, and I used its random feature to create the song. I selected a standard preset based on Latin, so the language used is probably Latin.

Q: Can you tell us the toughest music-related request you received from the team so far?
Soken: They've all been pretty unreasonable! But thinking of how much time I was given to make each one, I’d say the toughest was the BGM that’s comes in during the cutscene shown after completing The Final Coil of Bahamut - Turn 3. There was barely enough time as it was—the movie had already been made, and we couldn't change the length of anything. Also, the shots were made without any thought for the music we had to make, so the rhythm and timing were completely different from scene to scene. I started with the most critical parts first, and then worked backwards from there, but repeating the process of adjusting something because it was a half note short was really hard. And when I was discussing matters with the director of Visual Works, the both of us would blurt out “this is a problem" at the same time.

Q: You mentioned in the past that creating the sound was the final step in the process, but have you ever proposed a song for some new feature that you prepared first?
A: Soken: Never. I have absolutely no time for that.

Q: What is your favorite type of music genre and band?
A: Soken: I’m always wearing their shirt! “Rage Against the Machine.”

Q: What games other than FFXIV do you like the music of?
A: Soken: Sega’s “Burning Rangers.” I met with the composer, Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, just the other day. I asked him where he recorded the music and he answered “NY” (New York)... I was pretty jealous since I’m always trapped in a booth.

Yoshida: But you have your own “NY” – Naoki Yoshida!

Q: There are a wealth of ambient sounds and sound effects in FFXIV, but do you have one in particular that you really like?
A: Soken: We pay really close attention to making all of the ambient sounds, but personally I really like Gridania.

There is one person on the Sound Team that works around the clock on ambient sounds. This person goes out by car to grab good ambient sounds, and captures them in multichannel sound with a recording device that he bought himself. Then we edit the sounds, and add them to the game.

Unfortunately, we can’t use ambient sounds when there is other noise pollution, such as chirping birds or cars driving by. Since there are roads everywhere in Japan, there are a limited number of places where ambient sounds can be captured without noise pollution. So, whenever those on the dev. team start thinking, “I haven’t seen him around at the office lately,” chances are he’s off in the mountains somewhere. The other thing is, even when the sounds are recorded, they can’t be used in game straight away. If you try to use them the way they are, they won’t match the environment, so you might do 3D referencing of 600 birds, one at a time. If you have the chance, you should definitely try listening to them in 5.1 surround sound.

Q: I'd like to listen to the Snowcloak music in high definition. When are you planning to release another soundtrack?
A: But we JUST released a new album…! We don’t have any soundtrack plans at the moment, but we’ll do our best to release an album before the expansion. We had a feeling something like this might happen, so at the start of the year we booked three days at a studio that handles soundtrack recording.

Q: When making a song do you consider how "FF" it feels? Or do you just write them however you feel?
A: We definitely consider how “FF” our songs feel when we make them. However, we also try to stay conscious of where to deviate. While we want to place importance on the FINAL FANTASY feel, we also want it to have some sense of originality, so we’re constantly thinking about this when we make music. FINAL FANTASY is almost synonymous with Uematsu's music, so we try to place importance on keeping that "FF" feeling.

Q: I find it amazing that the battle music and regular music in Crystal Tower transitions seamlessly. What kind of system do you have in place to do this?
A: Soken: This is a bit complicated to get into here, but there was a seminar about it at CEDEC (Computer Entertainment Developers Conference). CEDEC archives all of their seminar content and makes them public on the web. The seminar is under the name "Dynamix Plus," so if you’re interested, please check it out. The seminar also covers other sound techniques that are used in FFXIV. For example, the new technique we've used in the fight against Good King Moggle Mog XII, where the music speeds up after you defeat each moogle.

Q: How far along are you at the moment with the 3.0 music?
A: Soken: I can’t give you a specific figure, but we’ve finished several songs. The sound team has been receiving a lot of requests for the expansion.

Yoshida: I’ve been coordinating the requests coming from the event team and passing them along to Soken. Naturally, we’d like you all to hear brand-new music in the expansion; since the direction of the story will change, we want to make new music to fit the new scenes. As a result, there are going to be quite a lot of new songs.

Q: Are you preparing long versions of dungeon music? I really like how the long version of Pharos Sirius enhances the feel of the dungeon.
A: Soken: I’ll see what I can do, but we didn’t originally have any plans to add long versions of the dungeon songs. When we originally created the music, the plan was for 30 seconds of the dungeon theme to be played, and then it would go into the battle music. Then it built into the idea that we wanted everyone to enjoy the ambience of the dungeon while not in battle. Afterwards, since we didn’t feel our original concept lived up to this idea, we decided to gradually lengthen the dungeon theme, and as a result we created the Pharos Sirius song.

It would be difficult to add a long version every time we add a new dungeon, but if we have the resources to spare we’ll do our best.

Yoshida: We’re adding new dungeons at a very brisk pace, so it may be hard to do this for each song. But knowing how Soken is, once he’s done it once, he won’t be able to just leave it alone. There may be times where dungeons will start off with just the intro music, but I think there's a chance that he’ll add a long version at some time or another, so please bear with us. The music for the new dungeons and the World of Darkness has turned out really well.

Q: Can you tell us a song you had a lot of difficulty creating or one you have strong memories of?
A: I have strong memories of “Torn from the Heavens” and also “To the Sun”—Keiko played it during the piano performance on the first day of Fan Festival, and I thought it sounded really nice.