Final Fantasy XIV’s Story Brought It Back from the Dead

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn brought the original launch back from failure and recently passed 14 million cumulative players worldwide. And one of the main reasons is its narrative, which weaves its characters and plot into the action, making it feel very interactive.

Final Fantasy IV Stormblood

FFXIV’s main scenario writer Natsuko Ishikawa and lore developer Banri Oda recently discussed the challenges of developing the FFXIV story after its initial failure.

“That players’ experiences vary tremendously is indeed one point that we try to keep a constant awareness of,” Ishikawa said. “Currently, there are no major branching differences in the story between different players, but we do still want to give a broad scope for roleplaying in terms of the emotional approach and attachment players have to the actions they perform in different situations. The dialogue options in conversations are one attempt at creating that.”

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“One other thing we are aware of at the same time is that this is a game in the Final Fantasy series,” he added. “For example, we do not think that the player characters should be able to become criminals or perform vicious and brutal actions that are hard to watch. The story is serious and features a lot of tragedy and hardship, but it is also a tale of walking towards the light, and that underpins our thinking.”

Oda touched on the writing and how it ties into the underlying story.

“I think the most important thing is that the player characters should be the protagonists of the story,” he said. “This may sound like something that is so obvious it goes without saying, but it’s hugely important. It’s very easy for characters like those in FFXIV, who can be freely customised by the player and that do not speak in cutscenes, to become mere bystanders in the story.”

“Because of that, when we write the story, we really focus on making it feel like events are centred around the Warriors of Light (the player characters) themselves, but without fixing down the personalities of those characters, to give a good breadth of opportunity for roleplaying.”

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