At PAX East last week, I spoke (via a translator) to Final Fantasy 15 live services manager Shigefumi Tanaka about FF15's upcoming mod tools, which we were surprised to hear about last year—rarely do games of Final Fantasy 15's size commit to modability. The tools won't give modders total control over FF15, a fact foreshadowed by the inclusion of Denuvo DRM, but cautious as they are, they're far more than I expected back when the Windows Edition was first announced (which was nothing).
The first of the tools, releasing this spring, will allow modders to create weapons and outfits upload them to the Steam Workshop. There will be a set of guidelines for modders to follow, though Square Enix has not yet outlined exactly what those guidelines will be (I've asked and am waiting to hear more).
Below is a brief clip from last Friday's PAX East panel with glimpse of what to expect:
Later this fall, the devs will also release a level editor. "[Players] can create their own little locations, dungeons, things like that, and play around with the assets we provide," says Tanaka. It won't be powerful enough to create "new characters and original stories"—not like Divinity: Original Sin 2's mod tools—though Tanaka says the tools releasing this year aren't necessarily going to be the extent of FF15 modding.
"Ideally, we want to see it take off to the point where we can continue expanding it, and continue providing more tools for people to really enjoy their experience with the game," says Tanaka. "What we're providing with the initial set of the characters and weapons mods and the level editor later on are at the first stages of what we could provide. So once we have a chance to see how people respond to that, we would love to continue expanding that into providing better tools, bigger tools, and really just see how far we can go as far as giving content for players to customize and enjoy."
Below is a clip of the level editor, showing an interface for placing existing assets around an environment, as well a scripting system. At the end of the demonstration there are a couple of more complex-looking mods, including a golfing game.
I suggested that players may want to change the Regalia (the car central to FF15's road trip), and Tanaka said they had thought the same thing. "We have that idea bouncing around internally … It will probably be something people enjoy if we do ever release an official Regalia tool."
For now, the future of Final Fantasy 15 modding depends on the response, just as we previously heard that the future of Final Fantasy modding in general depends on what modders do with it.
"For our team, this is the first time we're putting out an official mod tool for our game," says Tanaka. "We actually don't have any expectations, we're just curious to see what people are going to make. And then maybe we'll get a glimpse of what players wanted to do with this game from the outset—just depending on what we see, we'll see what kind of things they were interested in."
In a separate interview, I also asked Dragon Quest 11 producer Hokuto Okamoto and assistant producer Hikari Kubota if, now that the Final Fantasy 15 team is experimenting with mod tools, they might consider making Dragon Quest moddable. "Looking into the future, there is a potential for us to consider mod support, particularly if this game does well on Steam this time around," they said (their answers translated together). "But obviously this is all hypothetical."
"Is that something you're interested in? Mod support for [Dragon Quest]?" asked Okamoto. I said that PC players enjoy the freedom to make changes if they want, to add characters or modify battle systems, as examples. "I see," said Okamoto, laughing, adding that "it's very difficult" to add mod tools.
My impression from both interviews is that Square Enix's studios are excited to venture into PC-oriented publishing, but are taking careful steps. Modding is probably off the table for Dragon Quest 11, and Final Fantasy's first mod tools will won't be the basis for any total conversions. But PC gamers always find a way to make the best (and often the worst) of what they have, so I look forward to the elaborate, strange, and surprising FF15 add-ons that are sure to populate the Steam Workshop before the end of the year.
Square Enix has released a few sample mods, including a Half-Life costume, to show off what will be possible when the first of the tools release this spring. Though the tools may not initially be powerful enough to do this, I doubt the mod community will rest until it's somehow turned every chocobo into Sonic.