Greetings, everyone!

We're pleased to present the full Q&A digest from the Letter from the Producer LIVE at Tokaigi! 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.
Don't forget to select the 720p option to watch the video in HD!

Letter from the Producer LIVE at Tokaigi Q&A

Q: What is the Manderville Gold Saucer?
A: The Manderville Gold Saucer is the main attraction of patch 2.51. The Gold Saucer was first introduced in FINAL FANTASY VII as an arcade of sorts, and we'll be recreating this in FINAL FANTASY XIV. However, it won't be exactly the same as the original. As you’d expect from an MMO, the Gold Saucer will be an entertainment center that everyone can enjoy, incorporating elements unique to FFXIV. As to why it is called the “Manderville Gold Saucer,” you’ll have to play the game to learn about the lore behind it and its creator.
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There are two games in particular that serve as the focus of the Manderville Gold Saucer: Triple Triad from FINAL FANTASY VIII, and chocobo racing. In addition to these games, there will also be special events called GATEs (Gold Saucer Active Time Events) that take place within the Gold Saucer. Nearby players can join in these fun activities together. We’ll also have a scratch-off ticket lottery called “Cactpot,” that you can purchase each week, and a number of simple mini-games that utilize the user interface. We’re also planning to update the Gold Saucer as we move forward.

Q: Can you explain how to play Triple Triad?
A: Before you can play, players will need to speak with the Triple Triad Master for a basic tutorial explaining the game.

Triple Triad has various rules, a number of which are the current craze in Eorzea. The rule the Triple Triad Master in the video introduces is "all open," which is a general rule that allows you to battle while seeing all of your opponent's cards. You can have up to five decks of cards, and build them by picking and choosing from among the cards in your card list. You can also name your decks whatever you like. Using a card you have obtained will register it to your card list, and allow you to use it when building a deck. On each card there are four numbers, one corresponding to each side of the card.

The game's goal is to capture your opponent's cards, and whoever has the most at the end of the match wins. Each turn, a player places a single card on an empty space within the playing grid. To capture your opponent's card, you must play one with a larger number on the contiguous side. The captured card is flipped over, and its color will change to yours. The winner will be decided at the end of nine turns. However, even though the card will be turned over to your color, this doesn’t mean that you will be able to “win” the card from your opponent. With “all open,” you know all of your opponent’s cards, so you’ll be able to strategize as you compare your cards with your opponent’s. If you win, you'll earn Manderville Gold Saucer points. To start out, you should challenge the Triple Triad master. You’ll be able to obtain five cards from this NPC at the start, so please make good use of these in your matches.
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In addition to the “all open” rule, there is another rule called “random hand” that builds a deck using randomly selected cards from your card list. Also, there is a rule called “same” geared towards the more experienced players. With this rule, if the numbers of two or more cards are the same as the numbers on the adjacent sides of the card you place, you gain control of every matching card. There are a lot of other rules as well; however, I recommend you start out with “all open” and take your time learning the more advanced rules.
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Triple Triad is played mainly against NPCs, but they aren’t only in the Gold Saucer; there are NPCs all around Eorzea with an icon over their heads showing that they’re taking part in Triple Triad matches. Speaking with these NPCs will present an option to challenge them, and by selecting this you can begin a match. Defeating these NPCs may reward you with new cards. Some NPCs will even give out rare cards, so try and take them on repeatedly to see what rewards they offer! And be sure to work together with your fellow players, exchanging information about what card each NPC has. FINAL FANTASY VIII was a standalone game where matches were limited to NPCs, but since FFXIV is an MMORPG, it will also be possible to play against other players. The player who offers the challenge has the right to decide the rules of the match. That being said, you don’t need to worry about losing cards when you play against others. We’ve also prepared locations throughout Eorzea where you can gather and play against each other, such as Buscarron’s Druthers.
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There will be 80 different cards available as of patch 2.51, and there are various ways to acquire them. Roughly half are rewards for defeating NPCs. Some NPCs have quite rare cards that can't be won easily, so please be sure to take on NPCs again and again to collect them all. Additionally, there will be cards that you can only obtain with Manderville Gold Saucer points, with some requiring a very large number of points. Others are obtained randomly from card packs. There are also cards that can be obtained through dungeons and other duties. A few can even be found in primal battles. When you obtain a card it will be added to your inventory, and upon use it will be added to your card list. If you obtain a card that you already possess, you’ll be able to sell it for Manderville Gold Saucer points; however, it won’t be possible to trade cards with other players. This is to safeguard against players using gil to collect all of the cards. We want you to take your time collecting cards, building increasingly powerful decks as you progress. Once there are a larger number of cards in the game, we may look into allowing players to trade. There will be 80 cards to start with in patch 2.51, and we’ll continue to add cards as we move forward. For example, we may do something like add 25 cards at the release of Heavensward and then another 25 cards in patch 3.1.

*The video shows an introduction of Triple Triad.

Q: Similar to how players have looking for group and away icons, do you plan on implementing an icon for those who are seeking Triple Triad opponents?
A: That’s a great idea! I’ll be sure to share it with Minagawa.

Q: It was announced that Triple Triad would be available through the FINAL FANTASY Portal App, but are there any plans to link this with FFXIV: ARR’s Triple Triad?
A: We’ve provided their team with the specifications and algorithms for FFXIV: ARR’s Triple Triad, and we are planning a feature that links with the app. We’ll need a little more time after Triple Triad is implemented in FFXIV, but we’re planning to make it so you can obtain rare FFXIV: ARR cards through the app. The FINAL FANTASY Portal App is scheduled for a February 2015 release (in Japan). Be sure to check it out!

Q: What is chocobo racing?
A: This is something that was in both FINAL FANTASY VII and FINAL FANTASY XI, but FFXIV’s chocobo racing isn’t like real-life horse racing where you can get money by betting on the winning horses; instead the player becomes the breeder, trainer, and jockey. You’ll enter a race riding your own chocobo, and you will obtain Manderville Gold Saucer points and your chocobo’s rank will increase if you win. Should you choose to retire your chocobo, it can be bred with other chocobos. Its offspring will inherit the traits gained through increasing the rank of your chocobo, allowing you to raise an even stronger racing chocobo. Since FFXIV is an online game that involves communication with the servers we didn’t make the race controls too complicated. With that said, you’ll find that there’s a little bit of luck involved with racing..

Inside the Gold Saucer there is a counter specifically for entering races. When starting out, you won’t have a racing chocobo yet, so you’ll first have to obtain one from the stables in Bentbranch Meadows. You’ll also have the option to choose between a male or female chocobo. Naturally you will need them both in order to breed chocobos, but it doesn’t matter which one you choose first. When you first receive your chocobo, there aren’t any stat differences. By ranking up, however, the attributes will increase randomly, and differences will gradually develop. Once you have your racing chocobo, return to the Gold Saucer and speak with the trainer on the right-side of the counter to register. When registering, you’ll be able to name your chocobo by selecting from words in a pre-determined list, combining two words to create your chocobo’s name. By speaking to the NPC in the middle, you can sign up for a race.

To start off, you’ll enter a tutorial course to learn the controls. Chocobos run along the race course automatically, but you can increase their speed at the cost of stamina. Stamina is restored gradually over time when not in use, and its management will prove key to winning races. You'll be able to steer your chocobo to the left and right, but they won't turn as quickly as mounts in the open world, so you'll want to take time to get acquainted with the controls for chocobo racing. For example, if you're trying to land on a panel that increases speed, you'll need to anticipate the time it takes to steer your chocobo. There are panels with detrimental effects as well, and timing is essential to either steer out of the way or jump over them. Being mindful of items that appear on the race track is also important. Once obtained, they'll appear on the pet hotbar and can be used from there.

After the tutorial you’ll be able to enter a real race, and you’ll have the option to form a party of eight and enter. That means, for example, that you’ll be able to hold races between Free Company members every Saturday if you want. There are various race classes, and by winning a race your chocobo’s stats will increase, and you will no longer be able to participate in races with a lower class.
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When you participate in a race, your chocobo will earn experience points, its rank will increase, and its attributes will randomly increase. One example of this is an increase in its maximum stamina. Additionally, you will be able to learn abilities, which can be inherited by offspring. When your chocobo’s rank increases, you’ll be able to train it once by feeding it, and this will allow you to adjust your chocobo’s attributes. Chocobo feed for training can be obtained through gardening, or purchased in exchange for Manderville Gold Saucer points. Racing chocobos also have a rating, which serves as a comprehensive measurement of their abilities. As this rating increases, you'll be eligible to participate in higher classes. When its rating is high enough, you can retire your chocobo and use it for breeding. You’ll be able to keep multiple retired chocobos, so by raising another chocobo of the opposite gender and retiring it, you’ll be able to breed offspring. Certain traits from the parents may be inherited, resulting in stronger chocobo. By repeating this process, you can aim to breed the ultimate racing chocobo. As of patch 2.51, it will be possible to breed with chocobos you have raised and retired yourself, or you can breed with chocobs made available in exchange for Manderville Gold Saucer points. For a future update, we are drawing up plans to make it possible to breed your chocobos with other players’ chocobos.

*The video introduce chocobo racing.

Q: What’s a GATE (Gold Saucer Active Time Event)?
A: These are mini-games that will take place in the Gold Saucer that everyone can take part in. While you won’t receive a large number of Manderville Gold Saucer points from them, they’re a fun way to, let’s say, pass time waiting for the Duty Finder while still earning a few points.

When a GATE begins, an announcement will be broadcasted throughout the entire Gold Saucer. First, I’d like to introduce a GATE called “Any Way the Wind Blows.” Players walk around the stage area and find a place to stand, and Typhon will appear after a notification appears on the screen telling you not to move. Any players caught up in his Snort AoE attack will be blown off the stage, and points will be divided up between those players who are left on the stage at the end. This is a game simply based on luck. The next one involves NPCs who perform eight random emotes, and you have to remember the pattern and perform them in the same order. There is also a game where you have to rescue a chocobo that climbed up to a high spot. Bombs will fall around you and if you get caught in the blast you’ll fall off and have to start from the beginning again. There’s also a game where you have to carry easily breakable pots to a certain location, a game similar to tag where you have to carry pots without being spotted by enemies that are trying to break them, and a game where you have to hunt for an imp that is disguised exactly the same as an NPC. There will be a lot of NPCs that look nearly identical, but at the highest difficulty, you’ll have to look for subtle differences such as the muscle tone of similar-looking Highlanders. Playing with a larger group of people is a great way to have fun, and I hope you all enjoy yourselves.

*The video introduces GATEs.

Q: What mini-games will be in the Gold Saucer?
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Upon implementation, the Manderville Gold Saucer will have four different types of mini-games. It will cost a small number of Manderville Gold Saucer points to play them, but even if you play the game skillfully you will not gain large profits. However, it’ll be possible to play them over and over again in a short period of time, so if you’re short 100 points of the item you want to buy, you can play the mini-games to get the points you need or just kill time while waiting for a friend to log in.

“Crystal Tower Striker” is simply a mini-game where you need to press a button with the correct timing. “The Moogle’s Paw” is a game where you grab objects using a UI that appears in the lower-right portion of the screen, with the smaller objects yielding more points. “Monster Toss” is also a timing-based game where you throw balls, and I have to admit that we spent 10 minutes or so just playing it when we were supposed to be performing checks on it.

Moving forward, we’ll continue to add more ideas that the development team thinks up, so for now try and experience everything available without getting hung up on one thing!

*The video shows off each type of mini-game.

Q: What’s the Cactpot?
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The Jumbo Cactpot is a weekly lottery that you can participate in once every earth week by purchasing a ticket with four numbers you select. You purchase this ticket with Manderville Gold Saucer points, and each week there will be a drawing that takes place in the Manderville Gold Saucer. If the numbers you picked match the ones selected by the bow and arrow, you will obtain a reward. There will also be a bonus if you exchange your winning ticket within 3 hours of the drawing. Since the time zones for Japan, America, and Europe are all different, we’ll be setting the drawing times to each region’s peak time on the weekend, but the times will differ based on the data centers. The Mini Cactpot is a daily lottery you can participate in once per earth day. Similar to a scratch-off lottery ticket, you’ll reveal numbers, and depending on the sum of the numbers the rewards you can obtain will differ.

Q: What kind of rewards can we obtain with Manderville Gold Saucer points?
A: *The video shows off mounts and items that can be earned with Manderville Gold Saucer points.

Q: Are there any plans to add a Triple Triad table furnishing item for our houses?
A: It’s on the development list. I can’t recall the timeframe, but it shouldn’t be too far away.

Q: Flying mounts will be introduced in Heavensward, but do you have any plans to hold chocobo racing in the air?
A: It’s easier to create courses in the air than it is to make them on the ground, so personally I would like to do this.

Q: Cactuars are a trademark of the Manderville Gold Saucer, but will there ever be a cactuar mount?
A: I’m thinking it would be difficult to ride, so the mount lead might have a bit of a hard time. Cactuars are featured all over the place in the Manderville Gold Saucer, so make sure to keep an eye out for them.

Q: Will you be able to go to the Manderville Gold Saucer no matter what level you are?
A: Certain activities such as Triple Triad, require the completion of a level 15 quest, so you’ll have to level up to 15 first. It will be possible to go there during the free trial. You can easily receive an airship pass after accepting the quest required to enter the Gold Saucer. Once you arrive, there is a quest that takes you around all of the Gold Saucer, so by completing this quest you will find out what games and activities are available. There is also an aetheryte and aethernet inside the Gold Saucer, so I recommend unlocking these first.

Q: Yoshi-P, please tell us your favorite game!
A: Monster Toss. It’s a game where you need to get points by sinking free throws within the allotted time, but it was designed so the throw timing changes.

Each development lead has poured all their love into chocobo racing, Triple Triad, and all of the other games and events available. The developer who worked on Triple Triad, for example, was a major enthusiast of the card game, and paid great attention to detail in its creation. The developers who worked on chocobo racing also did work on chocobo racing in FFXI. Using FFVII as a point of reference, they also incorporated feedback from FFXI to create an enjoyable racing experience here in FFXIV. A great deal of effort went into making these games, and we plan to add more of a similar scale in the future.