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  1. #1
    Community Rep Voltenyne's Avatar
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    Letter from the Producer LIVE Part LXXIII (10/31/22)

    We are pleased to present the full digest of the Letter from the Producer LIVE Part LXXIII!
    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 1080p option to watch the video in HD!

    Patch 6.2 Review & Patch 6.25 Overview

    In the first half of the broadcast, we discussed some of the content implemented in Patch 6.2 based on the feedback we received from our players.

    Storm's Crown

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    (00:02:43)

    While the patch trailer had players speculating that Scarmiglione would appear as a trial in Patch 6.2, many also mentioned their surprise at Barbariccia's debut.

    Simultaneously revealing two of the Archfiends before the patch may have given the impression that we were introducing them too quickly, which is why Barbariccia was left as a surprise until release. Another reason was that we wanted to present the trailer in a way that would have players guessing that the next Archfiend after Scarmiglione wouldn't appear until Patch 6.3.

    From a producer's point of view, it's always hard to decide if we should leave certain aspects as a surprise or include them in promotional materials. But one of our goals with the main scenario is to have players enjoy it and be surprised even as they predict what'll happen next, so diminishing that sensation by revealing everything beforehand is something we'd like to avoid, even if it makes sense to share it from a promotional perspective.

    Since two of the Archfiends were revealed in Patch 6.2, future patches will need to go above and beyond to surpass players' expectations. That's something we've been considering since the plot was originally proposed, so we hope you'll look forward to what's coming next. Although Patch 6.2 was dripping with plenty of references to FFIV, we'd like to remind you that our story takes place in the world of FFXIV, and also hope that you’ll enjoy our take on these story elements in future updates.

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    We're glad to hear that players enjoy the quick tempo of attacks in Storm's Crown and feel that the encounter doesn't get stale.

    Generally speaking, when our team is brainstorming ideas for battle content, they consider how they might distinguish them from previous encounters and emphasize the unique flavor of the game designer in charge. In the case of Storm's Crown, a lot of recent encounters featured so-called "puzzle mechanics," so the proposal began with including reaction-based mechanics that would have players scrambling to keep up. The fast pace of mechanics was already tuned exceptionally well when Yoshida had his first look, so adjustments were made while carefully preserving that aspect of the encounter, and the result appears to have been well-received by our players as well.

    This was another encounter where the harder version (Extreme) was designed first, from which certain mechanics and other elements were removed to create the normal version. However, many of the mechanics proved difficult to omit, and so we predicted that the normal encounter may have ended up a tad more difficult than usual.

    Something we struggled with designing was the circular boundaries during the mechanic where Barbariccia hinders players with her hair. The area inside the circle was originally colored in, but Yoshida instinctively felt that he had to exit the circle during his first attempt, despite the mechanic requiring him to stay inside. This led to a lengthy discussion about how to better clarify the circle's purpose, as well as whether players should be allowed to move around as they pleased.

    Pandæmonium: Abyssos

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    (00:10:16)

    We imagine many of you were surprised to hear Lahabrea's voice when he made his reappearance in the trailer and battle content.

    Although the main scenario revealed myriad details regarding the Ascians during the events leading up to 6.0, Lahabrea didn't have a lot of time in the spotlight due to his early withdrawal from the story. Therefore, we had already decided he would be the central figure for Pandæmonium's story by the time the raid series was announced during Fan Festival 2021.

    Yoshida was also unaware that Lahabrea had voice lines, and it was only during his initial review that he was told, "Oh, by the way, we added voices for him." That said, the budget is always managed very strictly, so it appears this unexpected addition was the result of the team doing their best to make ends meet.

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    A notable characteristic of the raids in Patch 6.2 were the numerous boss mechanics that utilized a large portion of the battle area, such as the Devour mechanic in the Fifth Circle and the floor-destroying slams in the Seventh Circle.

    In Eden's Promise: Umbra, there was a mechanic where sections of the floor could vanish; it was around then that our newer battle designers were growing adept enough to design raid content. Mechanics that transform the battle area are a culmination of the programmers' and designers' technical skills, and since our recent success with systematizing the process of creating those mechanics, they've become somewhat of a trend within the development team.

    To some extent, mechanics are also conceptualized based on a monster's physical appearance. In the case of Proto-Carbuncle, its methods of attack were rather limited to simple actions like biting, which is why the walls and other elements were mixed into its mechanics. Devour was an attention-grabber with its eye-catching presentation, but perhaps the reflective walls were the most ground-breaking mechanic of the encounter. As for the Seventh Circle, Yoshida guesses that the drastic floor transformations were designed based on the visual cohesion of all four Abyssos encounters.

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    Pandæmonium: Abyssos was our test run for releasing Savage raids a week after their normal counterparts. First of all, we'd like to thank everyone who shared their feedback with us.

    After going through feedback on the official forums, social media, and news websites, Yoshida's impression was that the majority are in favor of continuing to release Savage a week later. Many players mentioned they were able to enjoy the story and other new content at their own pace, so then any player requests will likely be regarding what adjustments should be made to accommodate the release timing.

    There were predictions that prices would drop for crafted equipment, which probably deterred a fair number of players from crafting their own this time around. This led to varied results across each World; some Worlds experienced a higher demand for crafted equipment than usual, while others saw price drops as predicted. As such, we're currently in the process of graphing the quantities and prices of crafted equipment sold on all Worlds in order to determine our course of action moving forward. We had a general framework in mind for what we'd do if we were to fully embrace the new release pattern for Savage, so now it's a matter of deciding which sections of our plan would be put into motion.

    The development team still has internal factors to consider; for example, releasing Savage a week after a patch makes it difficult for us to determine a timing for hotfixes. Although we can't guarantee we'll continue with this pattern just yet, we do acknowledge there are many players who prefer Savage to be released later and will be using that as a premise for further adjustments. However, we'd like to note that there are currently no plans to adjust the timing at which new Allagan tomestones are released.
    (1)

  2. #2
    Community Rep Voltenyne's Avatar
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    Job Adjustments

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    (00:18:28)

    Patch 6.2 was also the first patch where we posted our reasoning behind job adjustments. Some agreed with our reasons, while others asked for us to explain in more detail. In any case, we’re planning to continue these posts moving forward.

    A concern we have about being too detailed with our explanations is that certain portions of them may be taken out of context, leading to the spread of misinformation. Another point is that while we could post detailed percentages, it’s possible that players are referencing different data compared to those observed within the development team. With that said, we’d be grateful if you would continue to bear with us as we keep working on how our explanations are written, as well as the amount of information we include.

    We'll be adjusting values in the job adjustments scheduled for Patch 6.28. Generally speaking, we'll be looking at the overall balance within each role and increasing values for jobs that we find lacking.

    Something we've been hearing a lot about from our players, and have also noticed within the development team, is how ranged DPS jobs (both physical and magical) have lost some of their advantages ever since 5.x, which introduced enemies with large target circles and reduced downtime for melee DPS jobs. As such, we're also looking to balance ranged DPS jobs based on how they compare to melee DPS jobs. Do note, however, that this doesn't necessarily entail adjustments for all ranged DPS jobs, as some have powerful party support effects.

    Adjustments which require changes to programming or action functionality are scheduled for Patch 6.3, which we'll be going over in a future broadcast.

    PvP

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    (00:22:52)

    PvP Series 2 has commenced, and Rival Wings has returned from its hiatus. Meanwhile, Season 3 of Crystalline Conflict is currently underway.

    Ever since Crystalline Conflict was released in Patch 6.1, we've been seeing unprecedented numbers of participants in PvP. To maintain that momentum, we're also looking to make some level of PvP job adjustments in Patch 6.28 as well. An exception is the paladin action Guardian, which is affecting the overall balance of Frontline gameplay; it'll be addressed with system-side adjustments in Patch 6.25.

    The current balance of win rates per job in Crystalline Conflict is the best since its release, with no job having reached over 50% when excluding matches where both teams have the same job composition.
    However, there are some subtly overpowered jobs that have gone unnoticed, so we'll be fine-tuning those while addressing other areas which need attention.

    Island Sanctuary

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    (00:24:55)

    Many of you have been enjoying Island Sanctuary, so much so that instances were full at one point.

    The feedback we received covered a wide range of topics, one of them being "This isn't easy-going content at all!" which we especially saw from Japanese players. This opinion varied wildly per region, with many of our Western players enjoying the content at their own pace; Japanese players, on the other hand, are often compelled to optimize when they see objectives and schedules. However, this was somewhat intentional. We're currently on the first phase of Island Sanctuary, but when later phases become available, it could be difficult to feel motivated without a clear goal or reason to keep playing. Therefore, we provided objectives to some extent and implemented the schedule management aspect.

    Statistically speaking, most players are progressing their island sanctuary every few days, but it's understandable that some may feel pressured to maintain an optimized routine, so we may consider easing that aspect a little. However, we also feel that it's okay for Island Sanctuary to have diverse playstyles, so we'll need to be mindful to maintain a balance.

    We also received a lot of feedback regarding the user interface, which will be earnestly reviewed by our UI team.

    Something we predicted beforehand were requests for more options to personalize your island sanctuary. Island Sanctuary is designed upon the foundation that is the game systems of FFXIV, so allowing players to freely construct facilities wherever they want on the island without compromising aesthetics was unfeasible. This meant facility locations were mostly predetermined since the initial proposal, so our idea was to allow customization in the form of deciding where to build each facility. That said, future updates will introduce more facilities, allowing you to further distinguish your island from those of others.

    Another possibility we're looking into is somehow allowing players to place outdoor furnishings on their island, though this is something we always knew would be difficult to execute. It's not something we can give a time frame estimate for, but we're trying our best in hopes that it'll allow you to further enjoy customizing your island sanctuary.

    We'll continue to allocate development effort towards Island Sanctuary, so we'd appreciate if you could continue to share your feedback with us.

    Items & Graphics

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    (00:30:18)

    We saw that some of you were surprised to see the umbrella dance emote added to the game.

    Fashion accessories render certain features unavailable when they're in use because of how they switch to different data internally. However, this allows for various functions, with the umbrella dance being one such test feature.

    If we were to forgo swapping data around and simply increase the amount of memory required per player character, it could potentially cause the game to stop working on certain machines. That's why we have to make do with more complicated methods, but this sort of trade off to make the game more enjoyable for players is something that'll continually occur in the next ten years. However, we do have the upcoming graphics update, and it'd be nice if we could eventually make various ideas a reality without sacrificing something else in exchange.

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    Like the Abyssos raid equipment, the Fae's Crown weapons garnered a lot of attention for their outstanding visual effects.

    The Fae's Crown weapons are just one example among many of the endeavors taken on by the Visual Effects team when designing new items, including those that affect character appearances as well as weapons. It all started back when we were designing weapons for Ultimate content; the idea was to make weapons that would stand out as much as possible, thus furthering research on visual effects as well. This research involved designing new and varied visual effects within memory limitations, and it appears the team was able to break new ground with their work in Patch 6.2.

    On a related note, we're occasionally asked if it'd be possible to add a feature that toggles the visual effects off, but that happens to be quite a complicated process. Making a version of the weapon with the effects properly disabled would require roughly the same amount of development cost as creating an entirely new item. The FFXIV team aims to please and may be able to implement it someday, but for now, we'd appreciate if you could keep in mind that it'd be very hard to work on at this point in time.

    The upcoming graphics update may allow us to express our designs in new ways, so we'll be looking to take on new challenges based on your feedback.

    What's to Come in Patch 6.25

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    (00:37:25)

    Patch 6.25 is scheduled for Tuesday, October 18 and has turned out to be quite the voluminous update. We showcased the new area you'll visit as part of the Omicron tribal quests and new equipment.

    North American Data Center Expansion

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    (00:40:09)

    The North American Data Center expansion will be implemented with Patch 6.28, scheduled for Tuesday, November 1. We also revealed the names of the new Data Center and Worlds. Four Worlds will be added in this first stage of the North American Data Center expansion, and more will be added as we approach 7.0.

    Note that the November 1 maintenance may require 24 hours; we'll release an official announcement beforehand, but we just wanted to give a heads up for now.

    The housing lottery is scheduled to begin on Saturday, November 5, and further details will be announced on the Lodestone later.

    We're also working on adding new housing plots to all Worlds. We're still unsure what patch they'll be available in, but our goal is to add them as soon as possible. Our company has already approved our investments in the overall game infrastructure for the next four years or so, so we'll continue to do our best to improve your gameplay experience.
    (1)

  3. #3
    Community Rep Voltenyne's Avatar
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    Scenario Team Showcase

    (00:44:40)

    In the latter half of the broadcast, we were joined by Lead Story Designer Daichi Hiroi, as well as Senior Story Designers Natsuko Ishikawa and Banri Oda, to showcase how the FFXIV Scenario team operates and how they created the stories for role quests.

    The Scenario team's work isn't limited to authoring text; their process begins from designing the gameplay experience for our Warriors of Light. There are also certain duties which are specific to their Lore staff members, such as supervising text, naming conventions, and lore creation.

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    The Making of Role Quests

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    (00:58:48)

    We went over the process of creating a scenario while using the role quests in Shadowbringers as an example.

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    The scenario creation process can be broken down into five stages.
    1. Conceptualization
    2. Brainstorming
    3. Deciding the Specifications
    4. Writing, Writing, and More Writing!
    5. Implementation

    1. Conceptualization

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    (00:59:34)

    When the Scenario team worked on job quests in the past, the idea was to have quests where specific jobs would be featured in the spotlight and also provide players with an additional source of motivation to level other jobs. These ideas, however, were reassessed when considering how job quests should be implemented in 5.0.

    The Event team felt that the storylines for each job quest were basically resolved in 4.0, and the same opinion was also brought up during the scenario symposium. Thus, the Scenario team responded with the idea of creating new stories that would carry on the motivational purposes of job quests, which was then presented to Yoshida.

    In the presentation, the team proposed that the new quests should focus on the Warriors of Darkness, as there wasn't enough space to tell their stories in the main scenario. Delegating their stories to role quests was considered an excellent idea, and the Scenario team was immediately given approval to move onto the brainstorming stage.

    At this point, Yoshida's instructions were to provide players with job-specific equipment before they completed the main scenario so they could wear the attire of traditional FINAL FANTASY jobs in the final battle.

    2. Brainstorming

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    (01:05:00)

    The process of creating the main scenario involves a symposium for determining the course of the upcoming story.

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    A brainstorming session was held within the team, and the ideas gathered there were brought up during the symposium. Among the ideas, one that drew attention was Mr. Oda's suggestion to borrow the aesthetic of the Ark Angels from FFXI and turn the Warriors of Darkness into sin eaters.

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    The idea was suggested since designing new boss enemies from scratch, even if they were role quests, was unrealistic as the FFXIV team was already running low on development bandwidth due to designing boss enemies for the main scenario. It fit the requirement for role quests, which required compelling and varied enemies for each role, not to mention that the Ark Angels' pale skin and black armor were a perfect motif and also feasible from a development bandwidth perspective.

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    As for Yoshida's instructions to allow players wear job-specific equipment in the final battle, the last of the role quests were made available at level 79, and checkpoints were created in the main scenario to guarantee that players would obtain the equipment before moving on.
    (1)

  4. #4
    Community Rep Voltenyne's Avatar
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    3. Deciding the Design Specifications

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    (01:09:30)

    Before we explained design specifications, we went over how the Event team is structured.

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    The Event team is comprised of three teams.

    1. Scenario Team
    This team is in charge of quest scenarios. As for the main scenario, several scenario planning members are doing their best under the supervision of members who were previously in charge of the main scenario. Mr. Oda and his team of Lore staff members are also included under this team.

    2. Implementation Team
    This team handles the process of designing the scenario into the form of quests and implementing them. Their work entails more than simply inserting text; a large part of it involves setting the appropriate behaviors for quest NPCs, such as their gestures during dialogue or the direction they take when walking away from a scene.

    3. Global Team
    This team is a recent addition to the Event team; you may be more familiar with them as the Localization team. In addition to providing translations, they also adapt certain aspects of the text to be more familiar for players in each region.

    When creating the role quests, the Scenario and Implementation teams each delegated a member to an assignment, who then worked together to determine the specifications.

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    The members involved, including the designers, came together during the initial stage to discuss the design details of a particular quest. This includes the number of quests, cutscenes, and battle encounters, as well as quest level and other factors, which were combined into a design document.

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    Aside from specifications, the Scenario team also worked together to decide how they would show the journey of the Warriors of Darkness.

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    Since the story of FFXIV is centered around the Warrior of Light, the team struggled to come up with a way to allow players to witness the adventures of the Warriors of Darkness, which took place a hundred years ago. Snippets of their adventures could be shown through the Echo, but the team was still unsure what to do about the inability to show the rest of their journey.

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    From there, they came up with the idea of using the role-playing feature to experience the Warriors of Darkness's adventures for themselves.

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    They also showed the Warriors of Darkness wearing different gear in each scene of the role quests as a visual indicator of how far along they were in their adventures.

    The development team has a timeline created by Mr. Oda and the Development team member in charge, which defines the small details such as the type of gear they had and the number of members in their party. These will be revealed in a special page in the third lore book.

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    There's another thing the Scenario team did to entice players to try each role quest.

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    They hid a number of mysteries throughout the role quests and prepared a final quest where the truth would be revealed.

    4. Writing, Writing, and More Writing!

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    (01:20:42)

    The process of writing a scenario for a game begins from various preparations, such as determining the necessary development resources and desired experience.

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    Typically, the writer for a particular quest is chosen from the members who volunteer themselves. From there, the team finalizes their decision based on each candidate's current ability and workload.

    However, everyone hesitated to volunteer themselves to write the healer role quests; the lore details mentioned that Lamimi didn't wear a helmet, contrary to Dwarven tradition. In the end, Mr. Oda ended up taking over the writing for the healer role quests. The quest battle using a helmet was one of his ideas, which he immediately confirmed with Mr. Nakagawa (from the Battle team) to see if it was feasible before writing the rest of the story.

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    Each writer in the team has their own writing routine, but everyone goes through several phases of review phases while constructing the plot, storyboarding the cutscenes, and writing the quest text.

    The team started holding "plot meetings" during the plot construction phase where they peer reviewed each other's initial drafts, since the goal is to maintain a consistent level of storytelling within the Scenario team rather than emphasize each writer's individuality. Another purpose of the plot meetings is to develop the overall team's writing experience through peer review.

    The writers then take the feedback they received to form a detailed plot, which is then emailed to the Scenario leads and Lore members for review. After that's approved, the next step is creating a text-based storyboard for cutscenes, since the FFXIV team works on cutscenes before working on the actual quest text.

    Once the actual quest text is drafted, a read-through meeting is held to finalize the text with Yoshida as well as the Scenario leads and Lore members. This marks the end of the writing phase, and the next step begins.

    5. Implementation

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    (01:29:39)

    Here we summarized the Scenario team's overall role during this phase, as it involves plenty of assistance from other teams.

    First, the Implementation team arranges the quest battles, cutscenes, and text together to implement them into the game. Simultaneously, the Global team works on their localizations, which are then forwarded to the company's Quality Assurance (QA) team to be reviewed for any ethical issues.

    The entire Scenario team, including the staff members in charge of each quest, review the gameplay to make finishing touches. Then after Yoshida's Producer/Director (P/D) check and addressing any subsequent adjustments or issues, one final check is conducted…

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    ...and the role quests are finally complete!
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  5. #5
    Community Rep Voltenyne's Avatar
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    Pandæmonium: Abyssos

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    (01:32:11)

    To wrap things up, we explained the scenario of the ongoing Pandæmonium raid series.

    Our goal was to flesh out Lahabrea's personality and history, just as we had with his fellow unsundered Ascians. To this end, we chose "family" as our motif and set out to reveal what sort of person he was from a public and private perspective. Tying the motif into the scenario proved to be an extremely troublesome endeavor, but it'll continue to be our focus as we delve further into Lahabrea's character in the story ahead.

    Working with the Game Content Team

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    (01:35:25)

    When the Game Content team designs a boss, the Scenario team sometimes provides detailed lore for the boss; other times, they only provide several criteria and leave the rest of the brainstorming to the Battle Content team.

    In Pandæmonium: Asphodelos, the Second Circle and the Third Circle were designed based on ideas from the Battle team. Their ideas for the boss of the Third Circle touched upon lore related to Lahabrea and was incorporated into the scenario as well.

    As for the boss of the Fourth Circle, the Scenario team only provided bits and pieces; however, the glasses snuck their way into the design specifications when the Battle team commissioned their art request.

    After these ideas are approved by Yoshida, the concepts for mechanics and designs are finalized before proceeding to the art request. Numerous ideas are conceptualized by several members of the Art team, which are reviewed by the Scenario team, Battle Content team, and Yoshida to determine which artist will be put in charge.

    The Pandæmonium story is still ongoing, and a certain individual who has yet to be examined in detail will find themselves involved with Lahabrea and the rest of the cast. Our goal is for the characters to be emotionally relatable in this upcoming story, which we hope you'll look forward to.

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