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  1. #1
    Community Rep Voltenyne's Avatar
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    Letter from the Producer LIVE Part LXIV Digest (05/27/2021)

    We are pleased to present the full digest of the Letter from the Producer LIVE Part LXIV!
    If you missed the live stream, or if you just want to watch it again (and again), check it out below!



    * Don't forget to select the 720p option to watch the video in a higher resolution!

    What’s to Come in Patch 5.55
    We went over some of the upcoming content that will be implemented in Patch 5.55, along with some new information.

    Patch 5.55 Release Date

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    00:02:50

    Patch 5.55 will be released on Tuesday, May 25. The main scenario in this patch is highly relevant to Endwalker, so don’t miss out!

    Regarding the Official Service of the PlayStation®5 Version

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    00:05:14

    Official service for the PlayStation®5 version of FINAL FANTASY XIV, which is currently in open beta, will begin on Tuesday, May 25.

    Save the Queen Update

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    00:07:07

    This update not only introduces new content, but plenty of story as well. The new large-scale assault, the Dalriada, isn’t Savage-level difficulty and can be enjoyed casually. It features a multitude of meticulously designed mechanics and bosses, so be sure to check it out!

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    00:10:02

    The Save the Queen storyline is written by Yasumi Matsuno from ALGEBRA FACTORY (CEO / Game Designer / Script Writer). Upcoming events in the story will ask Warriors of Light to make a certain decision.

    The conclusion of the Forbidden Land, Eureka, which unfolded throughout Patch 4.x, varied heavily depending on the player’s decision. Comparatively, decisions in Save the Queen won’t have as much influence on the outcome, and rewards will remain the same.
    However, the choices you make during the story will affect the choices you’re given later on. For a more immersive story experience, we recommend carefully considering these decisions and selecting the options that best reflect your judgment.

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    00:12:24

    We showed screenshots featuring some of the new skirmishes, critical engagements, and duels. We also took a sneak peek at a new mount, equipment, and furnishing items, which you can see in the video.

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    00:16:58

    Resistance honors will be added as a way to progress beyond Resistance rank 25. This system can be used to become very powerful but may be overwhelming to progress through all at once, so we recommend working on it little by little.

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    00:20:14

    The final step in the Resistance weapon upgrades will be available. You may want to accept the Resistance weapon upgrade quest before entering Zadnor so both can be progressed simultaneously. The item level of the weapon will be the same as the rewards obtained in Eden’s Promise (Savage), but the Resistance weapon will be slightly more powerful since its stats can be customized.

    As a note, upgrading your first Resistance weapon may be a bit tedious, but some of the intermediate quests will be skipped for the second weapon onward. Rest assured, the process of upgrading your second weapon will be easier compared to the first.

    Desynthesizing Gear Obtained from Trials

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    00:22:44

    We discovered that, as of Patch 5.5, gear obtained from certain extreme trials yielded crafting materials when desynthesized, while gear obtained from others did not. The development team didn’t have a clear rule on whether desynthesizing gear obtained from extreme trials should yield crafting materials, so this varied depending on the staff member who was in charge of item settings for each patch.

    Keeping things this way would be unintuitive, so from Patch 5.55 onward, gear obtained from any extreme trial will have a chance to yield crafting materials upon desynthesis. Note that the crafting materials are simply being included in the list of possible items, and will not be guaranteed for every desynthesis attempt.

    Although we considered addressing this in Patch 6.0, we wanted to allow everyone to craft all sorts of weapons during Patch 5.55 and implemented this straightaway. If you find any strange inconsistencies after the patch is released, we ask that you send us a bug report on the official forums.

    Upcoming Schedule

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    00:28:31

    We went over the overall schedule from Patch 5.55 until the release of Endwalker. Minor adjustments are planned for Patches 5.57 and 5.58, such as adding the power of the Echo to certain content. The highly-requested return of the FFXV collaboration event will be held in September.

    Additionally, our continually delayed 14-Hour Broadcast will be considered when we find a suitable timing based on the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
    (2)

  2. #2
    Community Rep Voltenyne's Avatar
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    Special Talk Session “Ask the Devs!”

    Guest: Lead Story Designer Natsuko Ishikawa

    00:31:31

    Our special guest, Lead Story Designer Natsuko Ishikawa, joined us for the latter half of the broadcast and answered some questions we had gathered on the forums beforehand. We refrained from selecting questions regarding elements that may be mentioned in the game in the future, so don’t be too discouraged if your question wasn’t answered!

    Q: I was moved by the amazing story in Shadowbringers. What do you personally think is the theme of the Shadowbringers story?
    A: Personally, I think it’s a story about the tragedy of the end of the world. In Shadowbringers, this could be referring to several different things. When I pulled out my notebook of ideas to see what I first wrote for Shadowbringers, the first line I’d written was, “This is a story about a hero that saves the world,” so I must’ve been thinking along those lines.

    However, I’m actually not very good at talking about what the theme of a story may be. Readers are free to decide the theme of the story for themselves, and even if someone doesn’t get the theme, I think it’s enough if they enjoyed the story. In that sense, I believe the theme is always “Make the story entertaining in itself.”

    Yoshida: That’s a very Ishikawa answer right there. She doesn’t care about conveying some grand message and instead prefers to tackle the story with everything she has. Of course there are times when that approach falls short, but other times it can be a critical hit, so I hope you’ll continue doing what you do.

    Q: In addition to character dialogue, I've noticed other elements are becoming more specific, such as character expression and camera angles. Does the Scenario Writer decide these kinds of details as well?
    A: We used “Scenario Writer” to refer to my role, but what I actually do is more similar to a game planner or designer, so I also handle tasks such as coming up with the production and resources of a cutscene within the development cost available, and then taking that information and compiling them into a proposal. How much we’re involved in cutscene production varies with each staff member. Personally, since I’m the type to play out the scene in my head while I write, I tend to offer more suggestions than others.

    I’d like to explain the actual process. First, we create something like a text-based storyboard.

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    This is a process we only go through in Japanese, so I apologize that I only have a Japanese file for reference. This storyboard is for a particular scene in 5.3. It establishes a foundation for the cutscene, and includes details like dialogue, expressions, performance, and motion effects.

    We then take the information established in the storyboard and create the cutscene specification document. In the specification document we establish fine details, such as which part of the cutscene should receive the most emphasis, as well as details about camerawork and clothing. For example, for a scene where a character walks into a room, we include information such as whether the hallway should be shown, what pieces of equipment the character is wearing, and more.

    We hold a meeting to go over these specifications with various staff members in charge of quest design, cutscene design, background, characters, and visual effects. This is called the cutscene specifications meeting and it takes a lot of time, but this is where we address any components that are missing or unresolved in order to reach a point where we just need to make everything according to plan, which makes it an invaluable part of the process.

    After the meeting, the teams put together a rough version of the cutscene, and we’ll review and discuss what needs to be adjusted and how finishing touches should be added. We also take another look at the finished product and make sure that it’s good to go.
    During this process, I also go through the dialogue and determine where certain background music should play.

    My job primarily involves giving directions and conducting checks. It’s the staff members who aren’t up here with me today who actually create all the wonderful cutscenes. Thank you, everyone!

    Yoshida: They work really hard to get everything done in time, but sometimes during my producer/director check from a player’s point of view, I’ll point out things like “This part isn’t convincing enough, please add some more to it.”

    Q: I've heard somewhere you shell out your soul to create some of these scripts. About how many days does it take to write text for one quest from start to end?
    A: As I mentioned in my answer to the previous question, I spend a lot of time on tasks other than writing, so it’s hard to give a general estimate. The process of writing is also broken down into many individual processes, which we work on separately, such as solidfying the plot, then work on the voiced cutscenes, non-voiced cutscenes, quest text, minor accompanying text, and more. During periods with a lot of writing, I’ll write something like 2 novels worth in 3 months, while working on my usual tasks as well.

    Q: Compared to other members of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, Thancred changed a lot during Shadowbringers, but was there a reason behind this?
    A: I’d like to take this opportunity to clear up a misconception. Sometimes I’ll receive questions like, “Why did Thancred suddenly regain sight in his eye in Shadowbringers?” but the injury he was hiding was temporary to begin with, and had no effect on his vision.

    As for why he kept tidy in Shadowbringers, he wanted to stay inconspicuous in the insular community of the First, but also did it out of consideration for Ryne. On the other hand, his physical body that left behind on the Source was sunburnt from his survival lifestyle in Heavensward, but gradually reverted to its natural skin tone from A Realm Reborn after remaining in an unlit room for so long. Tataru also helped him tidy up.

    Yoshida: I see some comments in the stream saying “These were all added as an afterthought,” but elements like these are all discussed and determined beforehand!

    Q: When you hit a wall during work, what kind of things do you do to try and relax?
    A: I visit Quest Designer Takayanagi. As for something I do on my own, it’s a little embarrassing, but I like to stare aimlessly into the sky. I particularly enjoy dawn before the sky turns blue, and sometimes I’ll stay up just to see that color. I also like waking up early to see the golden sky too.

    In the past, I used to work at a development company that faced the ocean. Mornings were particularly beautiful there, and I would recover just from looking at that, and I had days where I worked 36 hours. When I want to relax even more, I often visit various observatories and planetariums.

    Yoshida: Working for tens of hours at a time is obviously not a good thing, but I understand those moments where you just want to keep going and don’t want to be interrupted. However, Square Enix is very strict about working hours, and our HR departments issues warnings for working too long. Sometimes you can come up with amazing ideas or create something exceptional when you’re super focused, so I can’t really say that focusing for long periods of time is a bad thing for creators in general. But in the end, it’s not a healthy way to work for prolonged periods, and balancing that can be really difficult.

    Q: Are there any books, movies, or games that you take inspiration from?
    A: I have many sources of inspiration, and I generally spend my free time taking in all sort of media, but it’s hard for me to answer this kind of question because I don’t really look to specific authors or studios when searching for inspiration.

    On the other hand, if I spot something I haven’t seen before when I’m watching the news in the hospital’s waiting room or looking at advertisements in the train, I make sure to research it. After researching it, I’ll read works that are based on that topic. If it’s related to culture, religion, politics, or history, I’ll look up them up.

    Since I do this with all sorts of information that enters my sight, I’m the type that always has something to I want to research or read even if I don’t follow a particular author or work.

    Q: I'm curious about the Crystal Exarch's past. Will we ever find out how he ended up in the Crystarium and how the darkness within Warriors of Light came to be?
    A: As you can tell, I’m answering this question, so we currently don’t have anything planned!
    With that said, I don’t think he’s really trying to hide anything, so during your journeys you can set up a campfire minion and pour some coffee to set the mood, and he might answer your questions.

    Q: If there was a popular FFXIV character vote, which character would you vote for?

    A: During the NHK character poll, I snuck in a vote for Omega.

    Q: I'd like to hear what your favorite scene or dialogue from any of the quests you've worked on is.
    A: If you’d just started the game recently, I hope you’ll just listen to this as a story from the past.

    In the past, Idyllshire didn’t have an aethernet, and instead there was an adventurer NPC who would show you around the settlement. When the aethernet is finally completed, the NPC disappears temporarily, but he returns in the quest where you can unlock Stone, Sky, Sea. It’s a simple quest that I was in charge of and have quietly enjoyed.

    Yoshida: Something I really like about the FFXIV team is that they’ll breathe life into NPCs, even the ones who are just there to provide certain functions.

    Q: Can you please tell us which quest or main scenario was the most difficult one you've worked on?
    A: There isn’t a single one where I didn’t struggle! I’m the type of person that really cares when I’m unable to accomplish something. I’ve battled my way through life looking at my shortcomings and thinking “I want to do better next time!”

    Yoshida: There are a few others within the FFXIV team that are that way, but even among them Ishikawa is the type to ask for feedback every single time. She always tells me she obviously wants to know the positive aspects, but also wants me to point out the flaws without holding back. My impression of her, when I provide my feedback with flaws and all, is that she has a really satisfied expression and goes, “I’ll do my best with everything else!” as she rolls up her sleeves.

    Q: I'd like to know if there's anything in particular you have in mind when crafting player response options during cutscenes.
    A: This varies for each staff member, but I personally start off by making the first option affirmative and enthusiastic, the second one neutral, and the third one is negative and pessimistic. From there, occasionally I'll narrow it down to two options, or replace one of the options with a silly response.

    Q: Have there been any difficulties or benefits with the remote working situation?
    A: Yoshida and I are two of the biggest perpetrators of not going home, and we’re often commuting to the office. On the other hand, my colleagues have said that they've been able to spend more time with family, or help out around the house, which I find very wonderful.

    Q: I'd like to know if there's anything you can share with us on what kind of story will unfold in Endwalker.
    A: During the previous Fan Festival, I ended up asking you all to complete the Crystal Tower series by Shadowbringers, but I don’t think there are any major requirements like that this time. However, it is the finale after all, so there are a lot of elements where you might grin if you recognize them. You may want to complete the various 8-player and 24-player raids, trials including the Four Lords and Sorrow of Werlyt, Eureka and Save the Queen, and all job quests. If there’s anything in this list you haven’t done yet, it’d be great if you could invite some friends or recruit members with a party finder to try them out.

    With that said, I know some of you will say “I don’t have the time!” so I’ll just recommend two things from me.

    The first one is the Binding Coil of Bahamut. Old Sharlayan appeared in yesterday’s annoucements, and as you may know, the nation of Sharlayan is home to Alphinaud and Alisaie, as well as where the Leveilleur family resides. You may want to play through the Binding Coil of Bahamut to learn more about their family’s story.

    The second one is Interdimensional Rift – Omega. In Endwalker, the Warrior of Light will be leaving the star of Hydaelyn to journey to Mare Lamentorum on the moon’s surface. We also announced Vrtra of the First Brood. Between you and me, Vrtra is the youngest child out of Midgarsormr’s children. Once you’ve played through the Omega raids and learned the relationship between space and dragons, there’s something that may come to mind.
    (2)