In September Square Enix launched Final Fantasy XIV, its long-awaited MMO.
It should have been a time of celebration for the Japanese company. Instead, it was slammed in the face by negative reviews and an outpouring of complaints from players.
As a result, Square Enix has promised to drastically change the game with a raft of monthly version updates. Here, speaking to Eurogamer, senior vice president of software development Hiromichi Tanaka explains how Square Enix plans to fix its MMO.
Eurogamer: You've announced update details for the game. Is fan feedback the driving force behind the changes you plan?
Hiromichi Tanaka: Precisely. That's very important to us, and that's why we're having these version updates.
When we released the first version of Final Fantasy XIV, we noticed some players were unsatisfied. That's why we decided to listen to all the feedback and implement as much as possible, so we can have a more satisfying game experience, as they would like us to do.
There are a few main issues we decided to focus on. One is the user interface, we're upgrading that, and also the market system. We're planning to make it more convenient for the players to use.
Also, we're going to adjust the battle system so players will know what to do next and get into the game easier.
Eurogamer: Can you tell me more about how the user interface will be improved after all the updates have been released?
Hiromichi Tanaka: First of all, because Final Fantasy XIV is a cross-platform game – you can play it on PC and the PS3 in the future – we made a user interface which can be used on both with gamepads, or the mouse and keyboard on PC.
Since FFXI was like that – it was a cross-platform game – the design was more like the PC players can get the same experience with the gamepad as they would with the mouse and keyboard. That's how it was designed.
But we do understand the gamepad and mouse and keyboard have totally different grammar – how you make commands. That's something we're really working hard on. We didn't implement it at the start, but we're working on it.
We believe the pad side is good enough for the players, but we're working on the mouse and keyboard experience, and we're going to redo the user interface for those players.
Another issue we noticed was the speed is a bit slow. When players make commands they notice some lag. We're going to improve that with the November and December patches. We have another patch out early next year. After that people should have a new experience with the user interface, and hopefully that will solve the issues they're experiencing now.
Eurogamer: How exactly will the user interface change?
Hiromichi Tanaka: The version updates we're planning for this November and December are based on the current user interface, and focus on how to improve the current interface and the speed issue.
But when we come to next year's version updates, we're going to focus on the mouse side. For example, you can drag and drop your equipment and then have it on your character. Also, by right-clicking you can make a command to your character and react quickly. It'll be easier for the mouse users.
In the future, we're planning to open this up to the users so they can have add-ons, so they can improve it by themselves. That's the plan for the long term.
Eurogamer: Some players have complained about the map, which doesn't show you where to go for quests. Are you planning any changes there?
Hiromichi Tanaka: Actually, if you open the map when you go to the journal section of the menu, then it does show up. But we do understand that wasn't how users would usually open a map, so it was quite difficult to find that function.
We're improving that as well so people will be able to find it easier on the map – not only the NPCs and the quests, but the party members don't appear on the map. That's something we're planning to improve as well. It should be implemented in the next version update.