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  1. #1
    Community Rep Gildrein's Avatar
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    Feb 2011

    Letter from the Producer LIVE Part XX Q&A Summary (04/23/2015)

    Greetings, everyone!

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

    Letter from the Producer LIVE Part XX Q&A

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    To start off, let's take a look at the updated title screen. As you can see, this screen will be changed to a Heavensward themed one when you install the expansion.

    Main Scenario

    Q: How long will the main scenario be?
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    Starting with Patch 3.0, the main scenario will focus on the Dragonsong War, and it will have roughly the same volume as A Realm Reborn at Patch 2.0. If you don’t skip the cutscenes, and factor in the amount of time you'll spend leveling up, it'll be about 50 hours of gameplay. Similar to A Realm Reborn, the main scenario will have a finale, but the story will be updated continuously in Patch 3.1 and beyond.

    Q: Story-wise how much time has passed since the end of Patch 2.55 and the beginning of Heavensward?
    A: While there is no specific mention of how much time has passed in-game, it’s about a few days to a few weeks after the events that took place during Patch 2.55. You can think of this time as the time that passed while Haurchefant was speaking with the people of House Fortemps, and the expansion begins when the Warrior of Light’s entry to Ishgard has been approved, so it’s not like months have passed.

    Q: Will there be any special quests or requirements in order to level up beyond 50?
    A: No, there will not. Once you register Heavensward, the level cap will be increased and you can start to earn experience points. You won't have to complete any special quests.

    Q: Could you give us details about the naming conventions for the Au Ra? Will the naming be Japanese-based like Yugiri?
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    A: We've already announced that players will be able to select Au Ra as their character’s race, but we haven't talked about the two clans, the Raen and the Xaela. The Raen have been closely related to the people of Doma for a long time, and they use naming conventions based on Japanese. On the other hand, the Xaela are a nomadic clan, and their naming conventions are unique. We’ll be releasing the rules for making names in the future to give our hardcore lore fans the opportunity to pick suitable names.


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    We'll be adding new job quests. For the new jobs, we'll implement job quests from level ?? to level 60, and for our existing jobs we’ll have quests from level 50 to level 60. Please look forward to seeing what’s become of the characters you met in previous job quests and what kind of story these new quests will unravel. Disciples of the Land and Hand classes will also have quests added for level 50 to 60. Please don’t forget to accept these quests while you're leveling.

    Field Elements
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    The new field areas that will be introduced in Heavensward are roughly 50-100% larger than the areas you've experienced up until now. Including Ishgard and the mysterious floating continent, there will be 9 new areas added, so you can imagine how much larger the world is going to be. Some of you have been wondering if the floating continent would be an instanced dungeon, but it is in fact a field area, so please be sure to check it out.
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    We’ll also be adding new high level FATEs to each of these new areas. New mounts will also be added.

    Flying Mounts

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    We’ll be introducing flying mounts, and it will be possible to freely take off and land. You’ll also be able to fully control them on x, y, and z axes. However, you’ll need to "attune" to areas first, so you won't be able to fly around as soon as you obtain a flying mount. Think of as you needing to explore each area beforehand. It will be possible to fly in every area except Ishgard.

    It will not be possible to fly in A Realm Reborn areas, as the maps were not originally designed to allow for flying. We might address this one day, but for now we would like to focus our efforts on adding new areas.

    Q: Please show us a flying mount and how to control it.
    A: *The video shows gameplay footage of a flying mount in use.

    You’ll have full control over your mount on the x, y, and z axes, and by continuously holding the jump button, you’ll be able to ascend. However, there is a limit to how high you can fly. By pointing the camera downwards you’ll descend, and once you reach the ground you will land. All of the flying mounts have the same controls, and I think you’ll be able to get used to them quite quickly. Also, while you're mounted, if you fall from a cliff or high spot, you'll automatically begin to fly.

    What I’m showing you right now is the beginning area you'll visit in Heavensward.

    Q: How fast are flying mounts?
    A: Internally, the development team uses a special measurement for speed. Including all pre-existing mounts, movement when on the ground has a speed value of 0.9. When flying, mounts will have a speed value of 2.0, so it’s about twice as fast as on the ground. I still feel there is room to increase this value further, and I’m thinking about implementing something to possibly increase flight speed.

    Q: Do you plan on making it so our chocobo companions can become flying mounts?
    A: Yes, we have plans to do this. There will be a special quest, and by clearing it your chocobo companion will be able to fly.

    Q: Do you have plans to make the ahriman, bomb palanquin, and other existing mounts into flying mounts?
    A: While it won’t be at the launch of Heavensward, we do plan on addressing this. We’ll need to create the takeoff and landing animations for each one. It will be a gradual process, but you’ll be able to fly with them eventually.

    Q: Will it be possible for enemies to attack you while you are flying?
    A: Let’s imagine you are getting close to a monster out in the open world. Naturally, the monster will aggro you, and when you start to fly, the enemy can attack you during your takeoff. However, if you keep flying you can get away. Essentially, monsters have not been placed in the sky, and the enmity rules are the same as on the ground.

    Battle System Updates

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    We’ll be adding three new jobs: dark knight, astrologian, and machinist, and they’ll start from level 30. The job quests for each of these three new jobs will be located in Ishgard. If you want to start leveling these jobs as soon as you enter Ishgard, you’ll be able to do so without progressing through the new main scenario story. You’ll have to be at least level 50 for the new main scenario. By accepting the first job quest, you’ll be able to level up along with the story.

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    The level cap will be increased to level 60 for all jobs, and we'll be adding multiple new actions. Disciples of War and Magic jobs will learn new actions from their job quests. You’ll be able to level up without completing these job quests, but that means you won't acquire any new actions, so please be sure to accept job quests as they become available.

    Additionally, we've had a lot of requests to create unique level 3 limit breaks, and we'll be doing this for each job. However, the existing level 3 limit breaks will be allocated to certain jobs. You’ll be able to catch a glimpse of dragoon’s limit break when we show the Heavensward benchmark off at Niconico Chokaigi 2015.

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    We’ll be introducing new job-specific equipment as well as other new equipment. We've prepared a lot, so get ready to use your glamour prisms.

    We’ll also be introducing two new kinds of Allagan tomestones: Allagan tomestones of Law and Allagan tomestones of Esoterics.

    *Artworks for some of the new gear being introduced in Heavensward can be found in this blog post.

    Disciples of the Hand Updates

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    The level cap will be increased to level 60 for Disciples of the Hand classes as well, and we'll be adding new actions for each class. This will differ a bit from the new job actions. There will be three types of actions you can acquire: those learned by leveling up, those learned from class quests, and those learned by completing quests specific to certain actions.*

    We’ll also be implementing many new recipes.

    Additionally, we’re in the final stages of planning for the implementation of Materia V. We're making fine adjustments to the stats and the rate at which they can be generated to preserve balance. Everything seems to be okay at the moment, and as long as there is nothing that affects balance dramatically we plan on implementing them.

    *During the broadcast, we mentioned that new actions can be acquired by leveling, class quests, and the "specialist" system; however they will be acquired via leveling, class quests, and by completing quests specific to certain actions.

    Q: What exactly is the specialist system? Can you tell us more?
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    From level 55 you’ll be able to undertake a quest to become a specialist, and you can do this for three classes of your choosing. It will be possible to change your specialist classes by using a new item known as "scrips." There will be certain actions that you can only use while you are a specialist, but even if you do not become a specialist, you’ll still be able to take all of the Disciples of the Hand classes to level 60.

    While I said that the concept for crafting up until now was such that it’d be fine to just level up any one class, the development team is aware that actions like Byregot's Blessing are a necessity, and that leveling all classes is required to use higher difficulty recipes, making crafting quite difficult. The specialist system is something that balances this out, and allows players to enjoy crafting with more choices.

    Disciples of the Land Updates

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    The level cap will be increased to level 60 for Disciples of the Land classes as well, and new actions will be added for each class. Additionally, we’ll be adding Treasure Hunts, gathering points, and fishing holes to the new areas.

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    We've also prepared a new system for Disciples of the Land. While Disciples of the Hand classes will have the specialist system, Disciples of the Land classes will have the “favor system.” By using “divine favors” you’ll receive a special buff that will allow you to discover hidden gathering points while the favor is active. The favors will only remain active for a certain amount of time, and you’ll have to figure out when to use certain favors. Favors can be obtained using scrips for Disciples of the Land.

    Additionally, we’ll be implementing regional folklore, which are high-level items for those who have reached the new level cap. Think of these as the Disciples of the Land equivalent of master recipe books.

    Disciples of the Land and Hand Updates

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    You’ll receive a request from Rowena at Rowena’s House of Splendors to create items with a certain value, and you can make items that match that value and turn them in. For those without a lot of time who don't plan to play heavily in the crafting market, this new system gives you the option to craft at your own pace, creating items with a clearly defined goal each day. You’ll be able to earn experience points by doing this, so please be sure to use it when leveling up from level 55. You’ll also be able to earn scrips through this system.

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    The intention behind implementing the scrips system was that advanced materia melding was the only method by which players could increase their stats for Disciples of the Land and Hand classes, and we reached a point where a large amount of items was required to increase stats by even a small amount. For players who wish to race to the top as quickly as possible, they will be able to use materia as they have until now, but we’ll also have an alternative route for players to gear up by gradually saving up scrips. All players will need to use scrips at some point, so there will be a difference in speed for players who spend large amounts of gil on materia, but we're implementing this system with the goal of providing a new route for leveling Disciples of the Land and Hand classes.
    Gildrein - Community Team

  2. #2
    Community Rep Gildrein's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
    New Content

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    Recently we've been going through the final checks for the new primals, and the mechanics for their fights seem pretty intense. There could be falling, but it may be a little more forgiving this time around. They're nothing like the previous primal battles, so please look forward to it.
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    We'll be introducing a completely new map for Frontline, as well as a new rule that only applies to this map. The starting position for the three nations will change every time, and the distance between each base isn't equal. There are Allagan ruins on the field which will help determine the outcome of the battle, so you may lose if you only pay attention to your opponent. You can expect to see new PvP-specific gear as well.

    *Artwork for the new PvP-specific gear introduced in Heavensward can be found in this blog post.

    Free Company & Housing

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    The image shown here is related to the creation of airships.
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    As a part of the free company workshop, we'll introduce the house crafting feature, which can be used to adjust the appearance of your house. You can consider this a type of glamour for the house where you create a new appearance to project onto your home. We'll also be introducing an airship crafting feature where you will work together to build airships. You'll need to spend gil to build this workshop area, but don't worry, the price isn't that high. We’ll start with these two features for now, but we're planning to expand on this system so players can craft various things in the future.

    For house crafting, please use your imagination to see what kind of house you can build using the existing building materials. For airship crafting, you’ll need to combine four parts to build an airship: a bow, hull, stern, and sail. There will be various types of each part. For example, you can work with your Free Company and build an airship using a really fast engine to make explorations faster; however, the fuel consumption would be greater. Additionally, your airships will gain ranks by exploring the skies, and you will be able to build and own multiple airships.
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    At the launch of Heavensward, you’ll be able to build airships and explore the skies using sky treasure maps to obtain various items, and make new discoveries. We’ll update sky exploration with every patch. With the first update, players will be able to go to the floating island which your unmanned airship discovers.

    As for housing, we’ll have more furnishings, as well as the ability to change the appearance of the house using the house crafting.

    Content Update
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    To match the increase of the player level cap, the level cap for retainers will also be increased.

    As for the difficulty of trials and duties up to Patch 2.55, we've been receiving questions from players asking if it would be possible to make it so you can't fall off during the Titan battle. As players will be enhanced quite a bit by the level cap increase, we’re still looking into whether we will adjust the actual mechanics found in trials and other duties. With that said, we’re planning to adjust the Echo bonus and other parameters.

    System Update

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    Players will be able to undertake duties with smaller pre-made parties using a new option in the Duty Finder. For example, you’ll be able to enter a dungeon with just two players. We’ll make further adjustments for this so new players can follow as well. With this feature you’ll also be able to challenge the Coil of Bahamut with 7 players.

    With the new item level sync system, players will be synced to the minimum average item level set for each duty. This allows to players to challenge trials and duties at their hardest. We're considering using this for player events and official speed run events in the future.
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    We’ll introduce several different item loot distribution features. First, Alexander and Alexander (Savage) will each have different loot systems. We’ll get into more details using illustrations and examples in a future Letter from the Producer Live once we get closer to the release of Heavensward.

    Additionally, the loot system from trials will be changed as well. Currently, you get one weapon or accessory drop for one of the jobs, and because of this there are times where you don’t see the specific item drop no matter how many times you try. In 3.0 we’ll be introducing a token system, where one token will be distributed to every party member. For example, with this token system, you’ll be able to exchange 10 tokens for any weapon you choose.

    A loot master system will be available for pre-made parties. This system will give the party leader control of the loot window, allowing them to choose who will receive the reward. For example, for static groups, this will allow the party leader to decide and distribute items accordingly. Also, for groups that were formed with random players beforehand, the party leader could utilize this system to hold an auction and give the item to the player with the highest bid, and distribute gil to rest of the party members. Players in a pre-made group will not be able to need on items if "Greed Only" is enabled. Also, we made other detailed adjustments to the user interface such as the option to do a single take-back for items you accidentally select greed on. We updated the loot system to be as accommodating as possible based on the feedback we've received.

    DirectX 11 Client Distribution

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    Coinciding with the launch of Heavensward, we will be releasing the DirectX 11 client. Those of you who are already playing the Windows version, and using graphics cards that support DirectX 11, will be able to download this client to play in a DirectX 11 environment. The depth expression is remarkably different. The amount of strain placed on your processor will be lighter, so please check out the DirectX 11 version if your machine supports it. The client can be downloaded for free.

    Release Schedule

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    Everything that we discussed today will be available at the start of Heavensward. However, as I discussed previously, if we were to release items and content that have weekly restrictions, we are worried that it would create situations where players would try to rush through everything as soon as possible and force others to skip cutscenes. This would also lead to situations where players would not be allowed to level up and enjoy the new content at their own pace.

    As such, we will be introducing the Alexander raid two weeks after the release of Heavensward on June 23. Unlike the Coil of Bahamut, players will be able to re-enter a floor in Alexander even after clearing it (similar to the Crystal Tower). You won't be able to obtain another item once you've received an item, but you will still be able to help your friends. This version is intended for everyone to enjoy the scenario surrounding the new raid.

    Alexander (Savage) and the Allagan tomestones of Esoterics will become available two weeks after the release of the normal mode of Alexander. We have removed content with weekly restrictions for the first four weeks of release. Also, unlike previous item level caps, we will have more phases and the range of item levels is much greater than before. We would like players to spend their first four weeks enjoying the game freely, and discuss with other players to plan and decide on what jobs they will be playing following this schedule.

    Additionally, we’re planning to release the new Frontline map at the same time Alexander (Savage) is released. Honestly, we were not sure if we should release this at the beginning of Heavensward, but we assume most players will be focusing on the main story and leveling, and this may cause a situation where it’ll take longer to get into a match, therefore, we've moved the release timing to this point.

    Talk Session

    Guest: Chief Creative Designer, Kazuyuki Ikumori of Visual Works

    Q: Ikumori, please tell us about the process of creating the opening movie for Heavensward and the steps involved in how movies are generally made.
    A: It’d be quite a lengthy conversation if I go into too much detail, but to put it simply, we receive a written plan which is used to make a storyboard. From that we create a 3D animatic, which is simplified mock-up of the movie. With the animatic in mind, and once it’s been decided how the story will play out, we start working on modeling, effects, and lighting. The tools we use are relatively similar to those used in the creation of games, but when it comes to CG movies, we make use of a lot of different tools. If I were to explain the whole process, it would take about two full days.

    Yoshida: I start off by writing the plan over three A4-sized papers. Next, I present it to Ikumori, and explain to him that for a certain part, I want this particular scene with this particular emotion being expressed in this particular way. Based on that information, I have Kazuyuki create an animatic using various materials, and after I check it, they move on to creating the movie.

    Q: Ikumori: How much time does it take to create a single movie?
    A: The production timeline varies quite a bit depending on the content, but there are multiple production lines working at Visual Works, so for FFXIV, it took about one year after first receiving the written plan.

    Yoshida: The date on the file name of the first draft for the "End of an Era" video that I sent to Ikumori was June 2011, so it took one year and two months.

    Ikumori: It took a month to carefully read through the first written plan.

    Yoshida: We had started production of "End of an Era" when the very first Letter from the Producer Live took place.

    Q: Did it take about the same amount of time for the Heavensward opening movie?
    A: Ikumori: Yes, that's about how much time it took after we first received the manuscript.

    Yoshida: To offer a bit of behind-the-scenes info, there's a scene at the end of the opening where the Warrior of Light lowers the visor of his headgear, and it was my insistence that we go with existing dragoon artifact gear. But Visual Works told us, "Since we're going to all the trouble of making this, let's show new equipment. It's the main character, so we want to him to be distinctive." So we ended up making two versions and decided which one to use after comparing the two.

    Ikumori: I felt that as long as we're going to be showing this, we might as well show off the new gear.

    Yoshida: As the producer, naturally I think I felt it would be better to show off new equipment. But since it's gear that is obtained after going to Ishgard, I felt it wouldn't make sense chronologically to show it already being worn from the beginning. But then Ikumori said to me, "It'll be hard work, but it's worth the effort. I'm positive the new gear will make the main character stand out."

    Ikumori: During the process of creating the movie, they never said "well, we want to use the old dragoon gear after all," so we went forward with the new equipment.

    Q: When making these movies, what would you say is the most difficult, takes the most time, or is the most costly?
    A: Ikumori: The most difficult thing is deciding on the content in a way that won't ruin the game world's atmosphere when it's inserted, but will also allow for further immersion. In terms of the work involved, a lot of labor is put into the creation of intricately-moving, detailed characters, so it's difficult in that sense, but really the most difficult thing is deciding what to create first.

    Yoshida: When we were deciding what to create first, a member of the FFXIV development team who was working on cutscenes wanted to have a hair accessory worn by Nanamo fall in the same spot and lie in the same direction as it does in the opening movie, and that person conferred very closely with Visual Works. Also, in the opening movie, Raubahn's appearance was vastly different, and we made adjustments to make his appearance in the game look more like it does in the movie. In the game, there are limits on polygons and expressions that just can't be overcome due to limitations of the hardware, but if Visual Works is going to put in so much effort for us, it makes a really big difference in the way that it pushes us to reach for a higher level of quality.

    Q: Is there anything you're especially particular about when creating a movie?
    A: Ikumori: As I mentioned earlier, it's the atmosphere of the game world. There's a great deal that needs to be conveyed in a short amount of time, so I'm very particular when it comes to creating something so that will be easily understood by people who are seeing the movie, or playing the game, for the very first time.

    At the screening, I saw it being played on a really marvelous screen, and I started to want to make a lengthier video. However, the opening movie was made with the assumption that players will be watching the opening movie in their homes, so it looks a bit weak when viewed on a large screen. We need to do things a little differently when making movies that are meant to be watched on a large screen, such as minimizing the shaky, hand-held camera look, or zooming out more.

    Q: Of all the movies you've been involved in creating, which scene is the most special to you?
    A: Ikumori: For FFXIV 1.0, there's a scene in the opening movie where the adventurers battle a Morbol. I was never directed to include the Morbol specifically, just that they were to be fighting something, so I decided to include the monster I personally liked. I was allowed a lot of personal freedom like that. For FFXIV: A Realm Reborn, it's the fact that at the time of the first storyboards, Louisoix's name hadn't been finalized yet, so the codename we used to refer to him internally at Visual Works was "Grandpa".

    Yoshida: Even now, we refer to Louisoix as "Grandpa" at our meetings.

    Ikumori: The "FINAL FANTASY XIV - Flames of Truth" which we just premiered, we refer to internally at Visual Works as the "Grandpa Stands His Ground" version or "Grandpa - The Finale."

    Yoshida: It's even referred to by those titles in the progress update emails that get sent out to me.

    Q: What requests made by Yoshida have left a deep impression on you so far?
    A: Ikumori: In general, he doesn't really ask the impossible, but when he told me right before delivery, "The color of the dragons is wrong, so I want it changed," I thought to myself, "What is this guy talking about?" This time, we were able to change the color. It wasn't something that could be dealt with by changing the texture, and we had been making adjustments so that the dragons, which were white to begin with, glow with white as a base color. But even though we were told the color was wrong at the very last minute, they had been that color for a year in the reference materials.

    Yoshida: There's actually a really deep-rooted reason for this. When production started one year ago, there was only one in-game model of the dragon that the development team could give to Visual Works. There was only an illustration of the settings to be used in the implementation of Ishgard for FFXIV 1.0, and that's what we gave them to work with. But while that was happening, as we were writing the story for Heavensward, the concept of the first brood was created, and the design of one of the dragons wound up overlapping. For reference, the one in the teaser trailer that debuted at the North American Fan Festival is white. We had the color changed afterwards, but I had no choice except to ask that they change the color of the large number of dragons that appear in the opening movie.

    Incidentally, in the "End of an Era" movie, when the Warriors of Light offer up prayers and Louisoix calls forth the Twelve in an attempt to seal Bahamut again, there's a three-dimensional magic circle that appears. In the initial plans, I only wrote, "Call upon the power of the Twelve and attempt to seal Bahamut again," but when the provisional storyboard for the effects were completed and I checked it out, I was blown away by their work. In the written plan, I didn't really give any specific direction, so they gave a proposal for how they'd like to render the magic circle, and it matched what we were looking for perfectly.

    Q: Speaking of cinematic trailers, the pairing of visuals and music creates a synergistic effect. Are there any difficulties that arise when coordinating with the Sound Team?
    A: Ikumori: We work very closely with the Sound Team, and we often cry on each other's shoulders.

    Soken: I run into him in the smoking lounge quite often, and when I ask, "So how are things going?" he answers back, "They've gotta be kidding..." and I answer, "I know the feeling." That's how all our conversations go.

    As the Sound Team, the biggest hurdle we face is the very short turnaround time we're given. Since we can't provide sound without an accompanying visual, we're given many, many animatics as reference - but there are no special effects. So there was a time, for example, when we were given an animatic which looked like a dragon howling; but when we saw it the next week, it was actually breathing flames! So then we had to rush to add extra sound effects.

    Yoshida: In the Heavensward opening movie, for the scene where the Warrior of Light is traveling from the Gates of Judgement to Ishgard and runs into the dragon, the storyboard has them engage in battle. However, Ikumori said that a battle scene would be too difficult considering the production timeline and the volume of work that would be required for such a scene. So in the initial animatic the Warrior of Light and the dragon only cross each other's paths. The scene where the Warrior of Light makes a decision to become a dragoon is very important and it needed a scene showing the Warrior of Light being a bit overwhelmed by the power of the dragon. So I asked them to do something about it, which ended up giving Soken a hard time.

    Soken: It was very tough because while the delivery due date remained fixed, the instructions for what they actually wanted from us were often late or last-minute.

    Also, I used a full orchestra in the recording of the opening this time around, and when I told the orchestra members the schedule, almost all of them said, "That is an insane schedule."

    Yoshida: With the production schedule being so extremely tight for this opening movie, I'm afraid we made some pretty unreasonable demands.
    Gildrein - Community Team