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Interview with FFTCG Designer: Shota Yasoka > News
2018-02-16 21:59:55

Hello everyone! It is Kawa, editor of Card Gamer Magazine.

We usually talk about deck building, strategy, and game creation, so I’d like to write about something different for a change: stories from the designers of FFTCG! I am thrilled to be able to pull the curtain back from the making of FFTCG.

Today, I invite Shota Yasoka, a designer from Hobby Japan.

Shota Yasoka(八十岡 翔太)

Designer at Hobby Japan

He is a designer who plays an active role at Hobby Japan, taking part in FFTCG, WIXOSS, and many other card games. Also, he has a reputation as one of the top card players in the world, known as “Yaso” in the gaming community.

All FFTCG card design is done by himself!

Kawa: Could you please tell us about your role in FFTCG?

Yaso: I’ve designed all FFTCG cards from Chapter series to Opus. For making a new set, Mr. Kageyama and I decide the most basic things, like which titles and characters to make cards at first. Then I give abilities to them.

Kawa: There are about 150 cards in a set. Your team does them all?

Yaso: Not a team, I do it all. I create the basic designs, while adjusting and balancing is handled by another team.

Kawa: That has to be very heavy.

Yaso: It is, but there are disadvantages to assigning teams to this work. For example, if seven designers work for each element, it is possible every designer uses the same titles or characters for Forwards. If designers were assigned to each title, this could kill the ratio of forwards, backups, summons, and monsters. If the rough designs end up unbalanced, we have to re-do again, and again.

This doesn’t happen if I do it all myself, so we actually save time in this way. Some players might worry that this makes the game biased, but I do take some ideas from co-workers. Also, ideas of mine are not the final version of cards. Those are reviewed and can change later in the process.

Kawa: You made the base set alone for balance, pulling whole things together and then adding, subtracting, or changing for a better version. Do you also take part in the later process?

Yaso: Yes, I watch over each set until every single ability is final.

◆Chapter series, Opus series

Kawa: FFTCG was once released as Chapter series, which ended, and has now been re-released as Opus series. Is there anything you changed from Chapters?

Yaso: Yes, there are many cosmetic changes. We weakened summons a bit by including abilities to stop them, and it’s all based on the idea that this game is about fighting with your favorite characters. In Chapter series, we focused solely on making something fun, but with Opus, we try to include requests from FF fans.

In Chapters era, it was pretty common for players to continuously remove each other’s cards and end up with one forward on the field. For Opus series, we wanted to see players use a number of forwards, putting more emphasis on which one to attack or block with. I believe this is the most significant difference between Chapters and Opus gameplay.

Kawa: Any other points?

Yaso: A simplified game, we removed unnecessary complexity. Specifically, we clarified the text, and avoided keywords that require players to have previous knowledge. Cards from Chapters use keywords like “Link,” “Level Up,” or “Awakening.” In Opus series, the text explains exactly what a card does on its own.

For example, Zargabaath [2-034R]

Chapter: Link – Ice 3/Fire 3

Opus: When Zargabaath enters the field, you may play a Forward of any Element except Ice and cost 3 or less from your hand onto the field.

Zargabaath from Chapters doesn’t make any sense to a person who just buys and opens a booster because they like Final Fantasy. I tried to make those things clearer for newcomers.

Also, we included a lot of cards that Search for other cards. That was one of the main fan requests for FINAL FANTASY TCG. It was common for many advanced players to put three of the same card in a deck, but for casual players, I don’t think they did that. With Search abilities, players can use one copy of a character a lot easier.

Kawa: I see that point. I do agree it makes me more comfortable to use lots of characters, but on the other hand, I believe players find difficulties choosing Backups.

Yaso: That’s the point we want players to think on, how you use five spaces for Backups. ;)

From the beginning of Opus series, all elements have Backups to increase the power of your Forwards, such as Maria[1-083].

Kawa: I find some characters belong to a different element between Chapters and Opus. Some characters in Light and Dark became different elements.

Yaso: That is one change towards making the game more clear and finite. Players cannot use Light and Dark characters as CP, so you can’t include a lot of them in your deck. We reviewed all of the Light and Dark cards and broke them down into two categories, versatile ones, like Zidane [3-154S]or Emperor[2-147L], and fan favorite protagonists, like Cloud[4-145H]or Ace[3-153S]. We divide all others into other elements.

Kawa: I was very happy about that. I’ve played this game since Chapters.

Yaso: Yeah. I believe this makes it easier to include more of your favorite characters in a deck, like Warrior of Light[1-155R], Cecil [2-129L], and so on.

◆Designer’s Favorite

Kawa: While some characters had elements or abilities changed, there are also some that stayed the same. May I ask your favorite character from your designs?

Yaso: A classic one, Bartz[1-080H]

His ability is simple and versatile. He has the highest power in Wind. It’s impossible to make a mono-Wind deck without him, but he’s not over-powered.

Kawa: I feel so good when I can call him onto a field with 0 or 1 CP.

Yaso: Many Wind cards follow a similar design to Bartz[1-080H]. Kan-E-Senna[4-055H]is another example. Bartz is a card that defines what Wind is all about.

Kawa: What else? Are there any other favorites?

Yaso: Lightning[1-112R]is another one for similar reasons as Bartz.

Haste, First Strike, and dulling characters on your turn are all a Lighting card’s bestie; and she has two out of three. More attackers and fewer blockers, she does a lot when played at the right time. Only issue with her is that her name sometimes gets confused with the element.

Kawa: Okay. How about a newcomer from Opus series?

Yaso: I do like Kuja[3-030L]

He gives players multiple ways to consume CP. Players can use two of his abilities at the same time if they have extra CP. Just using a single ability does well in combination with other cards. However, he is not always a strong play. I think it’s also really good quality.

Kawa: Are there also ideas that get shot down during balancing?

Yaso: Mostly abilities that do not fit in a paper-based card game.

Kawa: Could you please tell us a little bit more?

Yaso: For example, abilities that last more than a turn, like giving permanent +power or First Strike.

Kawa: Other TCGs use dice or tokens for those abilities.

Yaso: I do not want to use items other than the cards, so I am trying to fit those types of abilities in text boxes, but not in the game as it is today. It would also be difficult for a judge to check records, such as a player claiming, “I used this ability 3 turns ago so it’s still in effect.”

Kawa: I see. Designers consider tournament play, too.

◆What is his favorite?

Kawa: You are making cards for FF. Do you have a favorite FINAL FANTASY title?

Yaso: My favorite is Final Fantasy Tactics, I have so many speed runs in that game and I play it all the time. Of course, I did try several dozen hours to steal Genji equipment… Which I have never been able to do. The battle system is great, but I also felt for the characters’ stories and love the world of Ivalice. Not only the main characters, but all the people in the game have something great about them. They are very human, and that includes their human weaknesses. I also take my time with it. With the battle with Wiegraf *, I had no doubt it has to be a battle players are meant to lose until I figured it out.

Kawa: I believe many players are waiting for Wiegraf, Celia, and Lede to become cards. Any other titles steal your heart?

Yaso: I also played Final Fantasy VII. Until the international version released, there were no hidden quests, so I made master materials or aimed for the highest score in mini-games.

Kawa: Yeah I did that, too. I think that’s something common with our generation.

*The battle with Wiegraf is one of the hardest battles in FINAL FANTASY TACTICS and the player cannot save data right before the battle. If you do save right before the battle, and you can’t beat Wiegraf, you’ll be stuck and won’t be able to progress.

◆Message to FFTCG Fans

Kawa: I had a really great time. Could you please give a message for the players?

Yaso: I want this Opus to be something that never rusts. I am trying to do my best as a designer and I hope everyone enjoys it. Thank you.

Kawa: Thank you for your time.

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