With Gunbreaker and Dancer added to the list in the latest expansion, we currently have a total of 20 classes, 17 jobs and 1 limited job to choose from. And with so much to keep in mind when coming up with new classes and jobs, like balance, skills and overall enjoyability, it most certainly can't be an easy feat. We recently talked to Naoki Yoshida, aka Yoshi-P, and the battle system team about job creation, what it entails and what exciting things we can expect in the future.
How do you make the decision on what the next new job will be?
Noaki Yoshida: When implementing a new job, we’re mostly concerned with broadening players' gameplay experience. Before we tackle exactly what sort of job we want, we first consider what role it will be, and how that would affect gameplay overall. We also give equal consideration to what the worldwide player base has been asking for, so it’s with both development requirements and player needs in mind that we decide which job would be suitable.
Does the inspiration for FFXIV jobs ever come from past iconic Final Fantasy characters?
NY: We try to think more in terms of what current FFXIV players and fans of FINAL FANTASY in general are hoping for than the popularity of specific characters from previous games. However, we certainly draw inspiration from such characters and their weapons when we design the mechanics of a job which is in line with what our fans expect, I think, and that’s precisely how gunbreaker came to be the job that it is today.
How do you ensure that a job that already exists in other games remains unique in FFXIV?
NY: Uniqueness isn’t really a priority, as “unique” doesn’t necessarily equal “fun to play,” in my opinion. We definitely focus more on how to create interesting mechanics without deviating too far from the image of each job that fans have in their minds.
When we’re looking into what actions to implement, we examine closely what tradeoffs are being made in using the action set of this job as opposed to those of other jobs fulfilling the same role.
What is the overall process for creating a new job, from the drawing board to launch?
Battle System Team: The general process is as follows:
1. Decide on the job and its weapon.
2. Determine its primary mechanics.
3. Consult the lore and art teams to determine its aesthetic.
4. Lay out a complete list of abilities.
5. Consult the programmers about implementation.
6. Issue formal development requests to the programmers and artists.
7. Set parameters for each action.
8. Allocate resources for motions and effects.
9. Make adjustments to potency, recast time, etc.
10. Fine-tune based on testing.
The first few steps are usually handled all at once, whereas the adjustment process detailed in the latter half will often be repeated multiple times.
How do you ensure that the new job will not overpower the other jobs within its role (healer, tank, DPS)?
BST: When we’re looking into what actions to implement, we examine closely what tradeoffs are being made in using the action set of this job as opposed to those of other jobs fulfilling the same role. If we’re considering an action that increases DPS output, for instance, we’ll calculate how much that will be raising overall party DPS, test it in-game, and then adjust the balance from there. We also balance performance and utility so that no action causes any one job to become indispensable in any particular fight.
How do you decide the actions for the new job?
BST: First, we decide on the actions relating to the job’s core mechanics. Gunbreaker, for instance, is primarily designed to feel like a DPS job through fast-paced cartridge blasts and accompanying blade slashes, whereas the step actions that provide party support are key for dancer. Then, we make sure to give each job a distinct flavor by adding actions that other jobs in the same role don’t have. In gunbreaker’s case, that means Brutal Shell and Aurora, which apply a barrier and healing over time effect, respectively, neither of which tanks normally have access to.
Similarly, dancer has Closed Position, which lets their partner share in the effects of Standard Finish, Devilment, and Curing Waltz. Of course, all jobs need the specialized actions required for fulfilling their roles, so we made sure to give gunbreakers the ability to reduce damage taken for themselves and their party, as other tanks can, and dancer the ability to reduce party damage taken, as the other ranged physical DPS jobs have something similar.
Who decides what the actions’ animations will look like?
BST: The motion and effects designers decide in the vast majority of cases.
However, if the job’s lead designer has a specific vision in mind for what the actions should look like, we can pass that request on to the artists. We quite often do this if we want the action to be reminiscent of something from a previous title, asking that they stick close to the legacy design. For gunbreaker’s area-of-effect attack Fated Circle, for example, we included a request that it appear similarly to how it does in DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY.
How do you test the new actions before finalizing them?
BST: The most important testing we conduct is to determine whether actions related to the job’s unique mechanics are working as intended. Initial implementation of such actions is quite costly, which makes it very difficult to go back and revisit them later, so we want to be sure they function as they should in the early stages of development.
Next, we run simulations of action and ability rotations. This helps us determine if any skills feel unnecessary at certain level ranges, or appear deficient in some way.
After we’ve measured DPS output against dummies and performance while in a party, we adjust action and effect potency accordingly. Determining party performance requires measuring the effect of each job on the others, how it affects burst damage phases, and how DPS output varies over time since there’s a lot that must be accounted for in detail.
When everything is properly implemented, we then do repeated tests within actual in-game duties.
These gameplay results are then compared to what was expected from our calculations, and further fine-tuning is done based on any differences between the two sets of numbers.
It seems DPS jobs are always the most popular - how does this impact your decision-making when it comes to deciding on new jobs? Do you think it's better to create more varied DPS classes as a result, or are you looking to create Healer and Tank classes that are so awesome players can't help but be incentivised to play them?
NY: Looking at the player demographics, it’s like you just said: DPS jobs are incredibly popular. As such, we’ve prioritized making DPS jobs, which we believe players are more likely to play. However, said jobs are designed to be appealing as DPS jobs, not more or less appealing than tank or healer jobs. We never design jobs with a mind to privilege one role over another. Looking to the future, there’s been a lot of demand for a new healer job, so I think it’d be in our best interest to start coming up with ideas.
Do you collaborate at all with the team that designs the gear and weapons?
NY: Collaborating on job mechanics and gear designs would ultimately hinder the process, so we generally make a point not to do this. However, we do a lot of design checks and gauging of opinions on job-specific gear, as it’s important for capturing the image of that particular job.
A new expansion means that there will be tons of new MSQ. Are these created with newly added jobs in mind?
In a word, no. The main scenario and new jobs are meant to enrich your gaming experience in different ways, so the design of one is not taken into consideration when working on the other. However, when a new job has been decided, we do make an effort to play them up by having them appear in the main scenario at some point.
A good example of this is Thancred becoming a gunbreaker in Shadowbringers. A job obviously goes through many, many changes before it’s ready to be implemented. Does it often happen that a concept is completely changed because it works in theory but not in practice?
BST: Very rarely have we ever had to completely change something after implementation. Upon discovering problems with some specific aspect of a job, however, we have made adjustments to how it’s implemented or even revised our original specifications to accommodate changes.
Thank you for time! We appreciate all of the hard work and look forward to even more mindblowing content in the future.
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