In a new interview with 4Gamer, Final Fantasy XIV lead story designer Banri Oda answered questions about details both large and obscure.
While many of the 15 questions asked were about the MMORPG’s lore, Oda also discussed the process of creating stories. As one of the main scenario writers for Final Fantasy XIV, he considers being cognizant of its medium as a video game to be crucial to his process. “Written media such as short stories and picture books” have fewer limitations than a video game, he says. This gives the team freedom when writing material such as “Tales from the Shadows.” When writing the game, it’s important for him to keep in mind that the game’s story is “not the final product.”
“Various elements, like character models, backgrounds, animations, music, sound effects, visual effects, quests, cutscenes, battles, etc. are necessary to bring the story to life,” he continues. “This means we also have to be mindful of whether the story and all related elements can be realized within our game’s design and schedule limitations. Plus, we need to synchronize everything with the player’s game experience.”
Oda says that to write the Heavensward expansion, he looked to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novel series, as well as the 1995 simulation RPG Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together. He specifically studied their processes, which helped him write a story that centers on long-running historical conflicts. In university, he studied philosophy and ideology, which also helps him when writing stories.
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There’s plenty of information he shared that will please those who are heavily invested in Final Fantasy XIV‘s lore. For one, he explains that healing and purification is a process done by, “redirecting aether to replenish life force and bolster the target’s natural healing capabilities.” As such, “that magic will not work on targets whose lifeforce is depleted and cannot be replenished, or is suffering from a disease that will not heal naturally.” Healing magic cannot replace that which needs to be treated by alchemical concoctions or surgery. (So, if you’re wondering why we couldn’t just heal the beloved character who dies in Heavensward — now you know).
Additionally, Oda discusses how the Seventh Umbral Calamity affected the world to differing degrees. “While the Lifestream and aetherial currents flow through every corner of the world,” he says, its impact is smaller in areas that are far away from Eorzea, like the Garlean Empire and the Far East. Conversely, the Calamity caused the people of Ishgard to suffer from the severe effects of climate change — causing the state to abandon some of its lands.
Oda also addresses why Urianger is the only Archon to have the Archon’s crest on his face. “There are two designs for the Archons’ crest: the official one, and a simplified version,” he explains. “Each Archon can choose whether they would like to bear one or both, as well as where to put it.” Urianger makes the bold choice of putting his right on his face perhaps because he wanted “to have it on his forehead like his respected mentor, Louisoix.”
Be sure to read the full interview for other specific lore details.
Oda is currently working on the upcoming Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker expansion. Director Naoki Yoshida confirmed to Fanbyte in February that it is also being written by the esteemed main scenario writer of Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers, Natsuko Ishikawa. Endwalker will be released on November 23, 2021.