We have had the opportunity to interview a few members of the developing team at Final Fantasy XIV. Such as Bethan Walker, the voice of Alisaie, Naoki Yoshida and Masayoshi Soken. This time we got to interview Namae-San, a ‘Character Concept Artist’. How did she design a lot of the armor and costumes you can see in the game? What inspires here? This is a few questions we asked here:

What were your biggest inspirations when you came up with the designs?

I would say I draw most of my inspiration from costumes in movies and TV series, as
well as present-day fashion. Although not many are held in Japan, I like to go to fashion shows. With photographs, you can’t view the clothing in three dimensions to get a sense of movement or a feel for the quality of the materials, so being able to see them for myself is very inspirational.

I look at the fan-made glamour sites every day to find out what the players enjoy and
what kind of combinations they use, so that I can incorporate these aspects into my
work. It’s great to see items put together in ways that I never intended, and then
drawing upon these ideas when I’m thinking up my next design.

Could you tell us a little bit about the process when it comes to game design?
(Like, the actual texturing /design part)

I’ll explain my role as a Character Concept Designer. First of all, the item team or
scenario team will send me an order. The scenario team normally asks for NPC outfits,
whereas the item team usually requests the clothing and weapons that will be given as
rewards.

For now, I’ll explain the process for designing clothing for NPCs.

1. The first step is to produce a series of rough designs. In most cases, the details
surrounding the character have yet to be decided at this point, so I try to come up with
as many ideas as possible (anywhere from three up to around twenty).

2. I take the rough ideas to Yoshi-P and the scenario team, and we discuss which ones
are closest to what they had in mind, and determine the overall direction.

3. With that in mind, I move on to the finer details. I’m in constant communication with the 3D artists as I update the initial design. Then, I will come up with images of the front, back, and sides, so they have everything they need to start working on the models. Of course, this all has to appear within the game itself, so there are lots of ways we adapt things to look good on screen. The accessories might be made a bit on the big side to make them easier to see, and the patterns and decorative elements might be adjusted to make them more visible. We also think about how the various contours of the clothing will look in three dimensions.

4. Once the design is complete, I run it past Yoshi-P and the scenario team for a final
check. With NPCs, we try to avoid giving them the same color scheme as other
members of the cast, so I’m sometimes asked to change the eyes, hair, and clothing
accordingly. It’s a similar situation with the artifact gear, so to differentiate a set from the other jobs, I come up with several color schemes once the outfit itself has been
completed, and we chose the one most suitable.

5. If everyone involved is satisfied with it, I pass the images on to the 3D artists, which
is the final step of my involvement in the process.

Something one of our employees has noted is that when it comes to armour, FFXIV has almost done the opposite of TERA and many other Asian MMOs, and has moreconservatively dressed women – has that (being opposite of TERA) been intentional? Or is that just a coincidence?

We have never intentionally set out to dress the female characters conservatively, but I
tend to subconsciously design them that way. I think about the needs of a particular
occupation or the purpose of the clothing─a warrior needs armor to protect them, for
example─so the outfits naturally end up being less revealing. A large percentage of the
equipment is worn by the players when adventuring or fighting, so it needs to be
practical in that sense. Perhaps that’s why they come across as dressing modestly.
Of course, if I am asked to design something relatively provocative, it may end up being
more revealing as a result, but I don’t think that it’s necessary to show lots of skin to
achieve that effect. Perhaps people feel that not being excessively revealing is the
same as dressing conservatively. I can’t say it’s something that I give much thought, to
be honest.

Also, due to time constraints, we try to limit the amount of gender-specific gear. In many cases, we decide at the beginning of the design process to make certain items the
same for male and female characters, so that’s another reason why the clothing for
women is generally less revealing. On the other hand, even when the same in-game item is used for the two genders, we are able to create male and female variations, provided we stick to certain limitations.

For example, the third set of artifact gear for astrologian, scholar, and bard feature
noticeable differences. With Lyse’s formal attire, I was asked to come up with a dress worn when fighting in the desert. Compared to the other female characters, this design shows quite a lot of skin, so I thought this might make her stand out too much, and it was on my mind right up until the release of Stormblood.

What is your dream project to work on? Say you had all the money/time you needed, what’s the biggest dream you have?

I already work in a field that I genuinely love, so I’ve never really thought about my
“dream project.”

But, if I had to say, I’d like to try some of these:
・The fusion of Western and Japanese styles typical of the Meiji era
・A setting based on popular, contemporary circuses
・Designing actual clothing
(Everything from choosing the fabrics to dressing the model and going to a location for a photo shoot.)

If you could invite three people to dinner, living, dead or fictional – who would they be?

If by that you mean “Name three creative people you look up to,” I would pick:
・Alexander McQueen
・David Bowie
・Yuko Yamamoto (fashion writer)
I wouldn’t invite them to dinner, though, because I’d be too nervous. I’d also need to
bring an interpreter, so it would be hard to choose just two of the three.

Lastly, if there’s someone out there who wants to work in the video game industry, do you have any hints for them?

Aim to be an entertainer. Strive to express yourself clearly as a creator, to surprise
people and make them smile. We should try to convey emotions, and this is not limited
to the games industry. Through experiencing the things that resonate with us, we
become inspired to create and pursue our goals. Ideas spring to mind, and we want to
know what attracts us to these things in the first place. Then, we feel the desire to share these feelings with other people. Experiencing this kind of connection leads to all sorts of wonderful discoveries. It’s just like a child rushing up to someone and saying “Guess what I saw today!”
Start by putting your heart and soul into the things you enjoy. Once you know what
these are, it’s important to find out everything you can about them, and immerse
yourself in them completely.

We thank PR Nordic and Square Enix for giving us this opportunity.

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