We sat down with several of the developers of Final Fantasy XI at Square Enix's E3 booth to see how the localization of the game is progressing. Richard Honeywood, one of the game's translators, gave us quite a bit of information about what it's been like to bring Final Fantasy XI to the American audience. Honeywood told us that FFXI was designed from the very beginning with a worldwide audience in mind, and he said that translation work has been in progress since the game's early development. He said that several translators are working on the different parts of the game, and each translator's style is being applied to the appropriate area.
It's been previously revealed that Final Fantasy XI will share one common network for all territories, and in light of that fact we learned a bit about the way the game's multilanguage support will function. The game will have a number of preset phrases that will auto-complete when you hit the Tab key on the keyboard, and if you're talking to a player who is using another language, using this auto-complete function will also translate the phrase into the appropriate language. For instance, you can start to type "hello" in English and auto-complete it, and it will be translated into the Japanese equivalent for someone playing in Japan. Additionally, you'll be able to search for other players based on their language preferences. You can look for only players who speak your language, for instance, and even search for bilingual players, who will be useful in a party made up of both English-speaking and Japanese-speaking players. With these features in place, it seems like the game will bridge multiple territories as seamlessly as possible.
The base Final Fantasy XI game in Japan has been out for a while now, and it's already received one expansion pack. Honeywood told us that the US release of FFXI will include both the original game and the first expansion pack in one package. He went on to say that there's a possibility of future expansion packs as well, if interest warrants them. Of course, the American version will also receive monthly downloadable updates concurrently with the Japanese game.
When asked about cheating, the developers said they're combating the issue aggressively in a number of ways. For one, all player data is stored remotely on Square Enix's servers, so wily players can't hack their characters to give themselves unfair advantages. For another, the developers change the encryption used by the game fairly regularly, so even if an unscrupulous player were to crack it, the scheme would be changed soon enough that no real harm could be done. Finally, the game has a number of moderators actively keeping an eye on the players and goings-on in the world to make sure nobody is doing anything they shouldn't be.
Final Fantasy XI seems to be making a very smooth translation to English-speaking territories. The game is expected to be released on the PC in the fourth quarter of this year, but the PlayStation 2 version's release schedule is contingent on Sony's plans for the PS2 hard drive. Tentatively, the PS2 game is set to release next spring, assuming hard drive release plans come to fruition. The game's developers wouldn't comment yet on a pricing plan for the game, as that's being jointly decided by Square Enix and Sony. We'll bring you further details on Final Fantasy XI as soon as we get them.