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Final Fantasy 14 team talks about Encyclopaedia Eorzea volume two, game design approach

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The second volume will have tons of information that the writers are excited to share

Square Enix

Square Enix’s MMORPG Final Fantasy 14 is known for its magical and dense story and world. That vast lore is explored in the book Encyclopaedia Eorzea - The World of Final Fantasy 14, a guide to the game that frequently sells out.

Encyclopaedia Eorzea goes into detail about the story’s beloved non-playable characters, the cultures of the game’s different races, the world’s landmarks and even the monsters that plague the land — it’s essentially the best guide to the vast world of Eorzea.

A second volume of Encyclopaedia Eorzea is in the works. Main scenario writer and world lore creator Banri Oda and translation direction and english localization lead Koji Fox told Polygon that the second lore book is complete, both in English and Japanese, with final edits happening now.

Fox notes specifically that this isn’t just an update to the first book. It’s hundreds of pages of new content. “There are a few things in this edition that have me especially excited — including some things that have been hiding in internal reference documents for almost 10 years,” he said in an e-mail interview with Polygon.

The new book, Encyclopaedia Eorzea: The World of Final Fantasy 14 Volume 2, will be available for pre-order online in Japanese, and the English version will debut at the Final Fantasy 14 Fan Festival in Las Vegas from Nov. 15-17. Fans who miss the festival will be able to pre-order the English book online, to be released on Nov. 24.

In honor of the game’s fifth anniversary, we talked to Oda, Fox and Final Fantasy 14 producer and director Naoki Yoshida about how they created a successful game and the story accompanying it.

Polygon: The races characters can pick are all so interesting and different. While it doesn’t heavily impact the story like in World of Warcraft, you do learn about the different races as you play the game. It’s way more than just an appearance-based thing. When Au Ra were added in Heavensward, were there any big obstacles to hurdle to get them in? Is there a chance of seeing new races in future expansions?

Oda: This is coming from more of my perspective as a member of the event (cutscene) team, and less as a lore creator, but whenever we add a playable race, a huge amount of work is required. We must ensure all of the cutscenes can are displayed properly with this new race, and we also need to adjust dialogue branches that have race-specific triggers … it almost makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it!

However, from a lore perspective, there really isn’t as large of a hurdle. So long as I am able to come up with a good reason why this new race had never been seen in Eorzea until now, as well as why players are now encountering this race.

As for the future … that’s a secret.

Square Enix

Polygon: A lot of MMORPG players don’t really play games for the stories, but FF14 tends to really break that mold, as fans really love the lore in the game. How did you approach developing the game’s story beyond a “typical MMORPG?”

Oda: Beginning with Heavensward, I looked to many standard, single-player RPGs as a reference when devising the main scenario questline. I tried to remember those games I played as a child, thinking about what elements were fun for me, and what of that might be missing from Final Fantasy 14. It was an exercise of identifying these types of things, and then making necessary adjustments so that it would fit in the MMORPG genre before incorporating them.

Koji: While our main writers will focus on creating that grand story, I like to focus on the background. Every side quest, every few lines of default dialogue from a guy standing idle behind a barn, every smattering of help text from items, mounts, and Triple Triad cards — all of these serve to breathe life into Hydaelyn and tell her story. A story of revolution becomes all the more relevant after helping a poor peasant woman on the outskirts of town who just needs a few mushrooms to feed her children until her husband comes back from the fighting ... if he ever comes back. I enjoy my part in adding this spice, and like to think it helps deepen the overall player experience.

[Note: Below contains spoilers from Final Fantasy 14’s Heavensward expansion.]

Polygon: The game gets pretty dark at times. Fan-favorite characters die as the story goes on. Haurchefant’s death immediately comes to mind as something the players mourn (jokingly or not). Are deaths like these planned from the beginning? Or was he unluckily picked from the cast?

Oda: If by “from the beginning” you refer to the moment the character was created, then the short answer is no. If this points to the period when we were creating the overall plot of the main scenario quests for Heavensward, then I would answer yes.

Square Enix

Polygon: Final Fantasy 14 is pretty unique as an MMORPG in part because of how detailed the class/job system is. Each class/job seems to have its own identity outside of just being a tank, healer, mage, etc. Do the identities that players match classes with fit your expectations? Did they evolve into something different than planned?

Yoshida: We have a key policy within the FF14 battle team when conceptualizing jobs: provide a different gameplay experience with each job. I’m very pleased to hear comments like these, and I am very proud of the team for accomplishing this goal.

Final Fantasy 14 allows players to play any job with a single character, and with that in mind the gameplay experience should be unique for each — that is our team’s way of thinking. We will always take this to heart as we move forward with new content, but you of course can also expect new developments as well!

Polygon: Is there any chance that there will be a way for players to get the “classic” Black Mage face, with the glowing eyes? This effect is seen in the level-30 job quest, but never again! Lots of players want to really don that old school look.

Yoshida: Hmm … My main job is black mage, so I do understand that sentiment. Well then, I hope you will look forward to taking on that form at some point and blasting away at enemies with magic. However, do remember that this won’t happen overnight! After all, when it comes to Final Fantasy 14, we always plans out our next steps about two years in advance …