Square Enix PAX East 2013

This weekend at PAX East Square Enix held a panel on Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. There they discussed a number of topics, from controller mapping to the history of the Final Fantasy franchise. There was some fantastic new concept art to behold as well. I met up with Morten Haugaard, a Final Fantasy XIV Product Manager with Square Enix, for a brief interview after the panel.

[Jared]: Thank you for attending PAX East and doing an interview with us on Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. The Final Fantasy panel that just ended featured a lot of general information about Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV, and I was wondering if we could discuss some more about A Realm Reborn. But first, what is your position at Square Enix?

[Morten]: I’m Morten Haugaard and I’m the product manager on Final Fantasy XIV and Final Fantasy XI. I’ve been with Square Enix for about a year now and working on A Realm Reborn has been a great opportunity. I’ve been playing Final Fantasy since Final Fantasy VI, or Final Fantasy III here in the States.

[J]: Finding people to play with was rather difficult in the first version of the game, especially for those who don’t typically play MMOs but would like to try something new. Will there be a way in A Realm Reborn for new players to find other people to play with?

[M]: Yeah, so we’re trying to pull in a bigger audience with the PlayStation 3 version of the game so we’ve got to do a couple things. With the PlayStation 3 UI and the control pad we’ll be helping them transition in. In terms of finding new players to play with, we will have game systems that will help you group up and join a party to play through dungeons, raids, and things like that. If you want to play by yourself, we showed a little bit about the chocobos at the Final Fantasy panel where the chocobo will actually follow you around and fight for you or help heal you.

[J]: The audience at the panel gave a pretty good cheer at the point where they saw a baby chocobo appear and follow you around.

[M]: So though the baby chocobo is more of a pet that will follow you around, you’ll see a lot more full-fledged chocobos that will actually fight for you.

[J]: And I think I saw cactuar running around there too at one point?

[M]: Yes, in the trailer you see the cactuar running with the others and the dust cloud following behind.

[J]: In terms of selecting a race and character selection, is there going to be more incentive to try new races and classes?

[M]: The team is working to add new character customization options to the character creator. For the players from version 1.0 of Final Fantasy XIV they will be able to directly import their character over. Then they’re looking at some form of a ‘character changer’ that will allow them to change certain aspects of their character to make them look different if they so choose.

[J]: One thing that was mentioned in the panel is how the graphics engine has changed significantly. With a new engine in place, does this mean that players with lower-end systems will be able to enjoy A Realm Reborn?

[M]: We’ve actually been working with hardware vendors such as Intel with their Ultrabooks and others to ensure that the game scales appropriately to a lower-end machine but still looks like a Final Fantasy game. We’re having it so that the game engine scales correctly from low-end machines all the way up to your three-thousand-dollar computer, and also to your PlayStation 3.

[J]: In terms of a payment structure, will there be plans to pay for more than one month’s subscription at a time?

[M]: We’ll have the standard one-month, three-month, six-month pricing breaks but we haven’t announced the pricing on that. But we will have a couple different options for people in terms of payment and how they want to manage their subscription.

[J]: That wraps up the Final Fantasy XIV questions, but I do have one last question. You probably get this all the time, but what is your favorite Final Fantasy title?

[M]: My favorite of all the Final Fantasy titles is Tactics. I love the different character classes and I love how overpowered some of the combinations are. I love how you can kill enemies with the power of math and it amuses me to no end.

And that wraps up our interview with Morten Haugaard, the Product Manager for Final Fantasy XIV at Square Enix. You can look forward to more content on PAX East from oprainfall over the next few days.

Jared Cyhowski
[Former Staff] Jared is a recent graduate from Fitchburg State University where he studied communications, video production, and English. He enjoys playing video games, watching anime, writing, and of course pizza. His favorite games are Shadow of the Colossus and Final Fantasy IX, but he can’t possibly choose a favorite anime. Jared enjoys following the games industry and observing what will happen next, and he puts out an invitation for discussion on these topics. He loves a great story in these mediums and prefers a stronger narrative design over most features. Jared is personally responsible for creating and managing the Anime section of the website, and hopes to inspired and entertain with everything he writes.