Greetings, everyone! FF-TCG Development Producer, Tarou Kageyama here. For this third “From the Producer Special” column, I would like to talk about an important aspect of FF-TCG—Elements—introducing our approach to deciding on an Element for a specific card. Additionally, towards the end of this piece, I will lightly touch upon the Multi-Element cards that will come into play with Opus XII, so I hope you enjoy the read!
How are Elements decided?
I occasionally receive direct messages to my social account asking: “Why did you make this character an X element?” As there are hardly any cases in which a direct response can be provided, here, I would like to begin by explaining how I arrive at an Element for any given card. Generally, the Element is almost entirely determined by me (though there are cases where testers would make requests from a balance perspective during the testing phase which result in changes, but there are only a handful of cases, almost close to none). The decision is made based on several criteria, and Elements are allocated accordingly. Through the “Producer Special” column series, I also wanted to provide a peek into what goes on behind-the-scenes to the extent possible, so I’m going to take this opportunity to introduce our criteria.
1: Directly Allocating the Element from the Source Material (i.e., Original Title)
This approach is not only the most straightforward, but also one that agrees with everyone when considering the allocation of Elements. Golbez’s Four Archfiends from FINAL FANTASY IV and the Sworn Six of Paladia from FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS are prime examples. This approach is often taken with Summons as well; Ifrit, Shiva, and Ramuh are quite easy to understand. Unless in exceptional circumstances, the same Element that had been given to the subject in the source material is allocated to the equivalent card. If Rubicante is referenced as the “Autarch of Flame” in the original title, I would of course make it a Fire element card. If Rubicante was made into a Water element character or Shiva was made into a Fire element summon, there’s no doubt it would feel a bit off. Therefore, for anything with a strong and clear association with a specific Element in the source material, I tend to allocate the same element to their respective cards.
Having written this, you may think: “If you’re aligning the Element with the source material, deciding on an Element shouldn’t be hard.” However, surprisingly, there are only a few characters with a clearly distinguished Element. The impact is particularly felt when considering characters on the main character’s side, as they are often able to use various magic and abilities of different Elements. Depending on the title, there are some cases in which characters are given specific elemental attacks, i.e., through Materia in FINAL FANTASY VII. Deciding on which Element to give such characters based on this criterion is quite a difficult task. This is the reason I require other decision-basing criteria.
2: Associating with Character Perception
Many characters, to a certain extent, emit a similar feel or impression. Let’s take Barret from FINAL FANTASY VII as an example. He’s a type of character that specializes in power over speed, giving the impression that he is a character with high attack power. In this case, Wind and Lightning—elements that both concoct a sense of speed—doesn’t appear befitting. Judging from his tremendous strength, the Earth element feels suitable. Like this, I tie the Elements in with the subject’s characteristics. That said, one cautionary point is that the impression someone has towards a given character may differ by person. In order to ensure that the decision isn’t made self-righteously, I strive to identify a shared perception towards the subject, finding what I call “the greatest common impression/factor” so an effort can be made towards doing our best in referencing this shared perception as much as possible.
3: Connecting with the Job
There are quite a few that follow this approach as well, and there are cases where I tackle the decision this way when a character has a clear Job. In FF-TCG, we try to fixate certain elements to representative Jobs in order to make it relatively easy to construct a deck around a Job. If it’s a Dragoon, Lightning. If it’s a Monk, Earth and occasionally Fire. If it’s a Black Mage, Fire, Ice, or Lightning (being conscious of black magic representative of FINAL FANTASY, such as Fire, Blizzard, and Thunder). Of course, there are several exceptions, but the image associated with a Job is typically fixed, so it serves as a huge reference when deciding on an Element.
Further to the above criteria, I may attribute Elements based on the source material, or if there aren’t enough cards of a certain Element in the list, I may replace characters to fill in those gaps, leading to the final decision on the Element. As mentioned, there are a few exceptions, but this is generally the thought-process that goes behind Elements.
Now, as mentioned at the top of this column, I’d like to end with a little bit of an explanation on Multi-Element cards. This refers to a single card that has multiple Elements from the get-go, and the following rules will apply:
1: When using the card, you will need to pay at least 1 CP from each Element. For example, if you have a Fire/Earth 3 CP Forward, you will need to pay a total of 3 CP and this needs to include 1 Fire and 1 Earth CP.
2: With a cost reducing ability such as “cost is reduced by X (it cannot become 0)”, neither of the elemental costs you need to pay become 0 with this ability. For example, take the same card from earlier; if the ability “cost is reduced by 3 (it cannot become 0)” is applied to a 3 CP Forward with both Fire and Earth elements, you will still be required to pay 1 Fire and 1 Earth CP.
3: Both Elements are applicable in all areas and not limited to the field.
4: When discarding a Multi-Element character from your hand to generate CP, the player will select either Element to generate 2 CP of the selected Element. You cannot generate 1 CP for each Element.
It’ll still be some time until this comes into play as these cards will be introduced with Opus XII, but I hope everyone will look forward to this mechanic.
I think I’d like to close out this week’s column here. Next week, let’s talk about “Jobs”. Please look out for it!