This week in his semi-weekly column in Weekly Famitsu, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn producer and director Naoki Yoshida recounted his earliest experiences with massively multiplayer online gaming.
Shortly after entering the game business, Yoshida began to hear rumblings about a new online experience called Ultima Online. Together with a colleague, Yoshida managed to get into the closed beta version of the game to see what the online world had to offer. "In a quarter angle view screen divided into cells, rows of characters were moving about with English letters dancing everywhere." Yoshida recalls. "When I thought about how each one of those was someone else, logging in from somewhere else in the real world just like me, it was an overwhelming feeling."
Of course, it wasn't all flowers and candy for Yoshida. "Such feelings were momentary, as about 30 minutes later, I approached a character whose name was red to say hello, and suddenly about 50 magic spells flew from them towards me and killed me almost instantly." That's right, the current head of Square Enix's flagship MMO was PK'd the first time he tried an MMO.
Yoshida's bad MMO experiences didn't stop there. After the official launch of Ultima Online, Yoshida formed a guild and set about earning money to buy a guild house. In order to get the necessary money as quickly as possible, Yoshida became a grand master miner and spent nearly 2 weeks mining and forging ingots to sell to other players. After 2 weeks of nothing but mining and fighting off PKers who would attempt to rob him, Yoshida managed to amass 4,000 ingots to sell.
Entering town shouting "Selling Ingots 4000! 13G-15G each!!", Yoshida was immediately approached by a player who was willing to buy the whole lot for 16G apiece — yeah, you can see where this is going. Yoshida entered the trade and made sure that the other player had placed a pile of gold worth 64,000. Writes Yoshida, "The moment I tried to hit the 'OK' button, the trade window disappeared. While I sat there confused for a moment, the other player quickly said 'sorry, I made a mistake.'"
Yoshida quickly re-entered the trade and managed to complete it properly this time. "I tried to say 'thank you, if you ever need more ingots, let me know!' when the other player quickly said 'Thanks!' and sped off as fast as he could." recalls Yoshida. It was a few moments later when Yoshida looked in his inventory to see a pile of coins worth 6 gold.
Now, over a decade later, that poor beaten and cheated man heads Square Enix's latest, and prettiest , MMO. Wouldn't it be a nice twist of irony if the guy that PK'd him and the guy who cheated him out of 63,994 gold would be playing A Realm Reborn right now?