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And I saw that you recently did a survey, and the survey was rather radical, I think, in that it asked players how fundamental the changes they'd like to see to the game are. I mean, how far are you prepared to go to modify the game?
NY: Yeah. It's really hard to put a number on it, but I guess you can look at it in separate areas.
For example, like the Guildleve system. We liked the Guildleve system, in that it provides a simple quest for someone who, say they have 30 minutes to play a game. They come in, they go to that counter, they know the quests are going to be waiting for them, they get the quests, they do them, and they're done.
So, that, really you wouldn't have to have a fundamental change to that. I mean, you could do some adjustments to it to make it better for the players, but that you wouldn't have to destroy the whole foundation.
Whereas the battle system on the other hand, I personally believe that the battle should be something where you get with friends, you talk over how you're going to fight this battle, doing all the tactics and the strategies. And right now, this really can't be done in the battle system that currently exists.
So, for this one, I'm saying that yeah, maybe, a 70 percent change might be necessary to get it to something that I envision as a cool battle system.
But even saying that, that's not to say that -- for example -- the Guildleve system doesn't need to have fixes as well. While it's really good for people that want to come in, play solo, and just get out in 30 minutes, that Guildleves system is perfect. But what about for people that want to learn a little more about the world? That would take, maybe, providing quests from the NPCs -- more of these types of quests where you can talk with these NPCs, learn about their lives, learn about the world. Things where you have to do a little more exploring.
And then on top of that, people that -- okay, say you have a lot of time on the weekends, so you want to get with a party and you want something a little more challenging than what the simple Guildleves offer. So, we want to keep the good things. Things that are working right now, we want to keep them. But then things that, yes, need that big change, we want to go in and drastically change those.
Has the feedback from players globally been very similar, or have there been differences in the different territories?
NY: We've had two surveys so far, and we'd say probably 80 percent of the answers have been the same worldwide. And then the remaining 20 percent, we found have been requests for other changes.
For example, in Japan, Japanese people have a really busy lifestyle, a lot of stuff to do, work. So, the Japanese players wanted us to keep a lot of the solo aspect, because they liked the aspect that you can solo a lot.
Whereas in Europe, a lot of the European users wanted more of a Final Fantasy feel to the game. They wanted airships and Chocobos. They wanted it to feel more like a Final Fantasy game that they envisioned.
Whereas the U.S. was more "Okay, we want parties. We want to have big battles where we get with our friends and put together strategies." And so, while everyone is saying that they want the changes, this 20 percent, there are some differences between the regions.
Do you feel that the different territories have fundamentally different expectations about how community management and community communication should occur?
SS: When you look at the community sites, the regions, you get lots of hot and cold. For example, America, France, and Germany, their community sites are really involved. They host a lot of things. They get really active about how they communicate. Whereas, you look at Japan, or maybe to less of an extent the United Kingdom, they don't get excited about it. It's a lot more low key. And so you have those U.S. sites and the German sites and the French sites, they'll want that hardcore communication there.
Another thing is what type of information each region wants on their posts. For example, in Japan, they just want the hardcore facts. They want to know what's going in the game, how much stuff will change, is it going up or is it going down. Whereas, in America, it's more like they want to know more about what type of person is this new director. Is he crazy? Is he nice? What is he thinking? They want to know more about him as a person. And the thing is, on the other hand, Japan, they don't really care much about that.
When it comes to the community management aspect of it, even though the regions are different in what they want, you have to keep the management the same, you keep it open, and then you get all of that data. Because if you have the community management part doing different things, then things starts getting confusing -- so you want to keep that open and as similar as possible.
Yoshida-san, you mentioned early on that you personally have been a long-term MMO player. I was wondering if you learned any lessons from your own participation in MMO games that carried over?
NY: Yeah. One of the things that I thought was really important, playing for long periods of time over a single game, is that community size is a very important factor.
Like in some of the older, I guess you could call them the "first generation" of large MMOs, like Ultima Online and EverQuest, there would be these big strong in-game communities. For example, you have guilds with like 300 people in them. But as the game went on, those communities would get smaller and smaller until they were made up of groups of people with similar play styles, people that wanted to do the same thing.
The people that are playing MMOs are now these veterans of MMOs who have gone through that first process. And now when they decide to make a guild, it's not more joining a guild with a ton of people, and then being one of the last few that remain; It's inviting people that you know that already have the same type of gameplay style that you do.
So, you invite these people that you know. And you make these close-knit guilds and these close-knit communities within the game. The challenge is how to make content that appeals to those groups, that want to do those hardcore things in those tight-knit groups. And that's one of the interesting things that I've learned and what I'm having fun with now.
The one thing that I learned from the battle systems of other games is that when you create parties, you have people of different skill levels, and some people will be really good at games, and some people might not be. So, you have the different skill levels in one party, but each person has their role, and their role is clearly defined, and that's really important.
To have the rules of a battle that are simple enough to understand, but challenging enough to get players to use their mind. You have to think and strategize -- have something that's going to challenge them in that way, but not something that's going to be complex to the point where people won't be able to do anything.