It’s finally done!
For new readers: Please read Yoshida Uncensored (1) first, if you haven’t already!
Yoshida Uncensored (2) Complete: PDF
For those who have been keeping up with my blog posts, there isn’t anything new in the above file besides the extra column and afterword (which you can also read by clicking into this post). There are a few grammatical fixes but that’s it. Of course, you’re still free to download the file if you want to have all of the columns in one place :)
Also, please consider filling out this survey to help me decide what to work on next!
Written for this book – 2018/01/09
The older woman who’d been quietly listening to me talk sighed, then declared:
“Yoshida-kun, if you’re going to brag, can you be less lame about it?”
This was 18 years ago, in the summer of 1999. We were at a pub in Chiba Prefecture, having ventured to the area on a business trip for Tokyo Game Show.
When I was 21 years old, I was a no-name video game developer for a company called Hudson Soft. Right before that, I was attending “Hudson School”, which was directly managed by Hudson and only took a small number of students. There, I received guidance from many senior developers. The woman in question was a clerk at Hudson School. To be more precise, she was a full-time Hudson employee and worked in the department that handled copyright management for derivative works.
This woman was seven years older than me and exceptional in both beauty and style. She’d been popular since her student days, so I’m sure she had many admirers. She resembled Gillian Anderson, who played the role of Dana Scully in the foreign drama series, The X-Files (I’ll refer to her as Miss Scully for the rest of the column).
While I was at Hudson School, I did an internship (which is really just a fancy way of saying working for free) and then joined Hudson Soft. Hudson School closed down that year, and Miss Scully became a lot busier with her copyright work. Despite that, she was still kind to me and would always find some reason to take me out drinking, since there weren’t many employees that were Hudson School alumni.
This is unrelated, but whenever I went drinking with Miss Scully, several of her friends would usually be there as well (and they were all women, too). I had many experiences of drinking while being surrounded by beautiful older women. I think I tried to act tough, but in the eyes of 27-28-year old women, a 20-year old man is probably nothing more than a plaything. I’m sure they were only treating me the way they would a small animal.
Later on, Miss S. was promoted to the Tokyo branch, while I continued on my merry way with game development. Every year, when Tokyo Game Show came around, we would meet up for drinks in Makuhari, where I would pretty much solely complain about work. In retrospect, I was totally acting like a spoiled child.
“Those guys joined the same time as me, so why can’t they figure out something so simple!?”
“So many of my seniors can’t do their job right even though they make twice what I do!”
“_____ only works with companies that benefit them! That’s practically collusion!”
I had a really foul mouth back then. I’m still pretty bad, but I’m miles better than I was before. Still, I thought really highly of myself since I worked much harder than anyone else did, and I paid a lot of attention to sales and profits. I always took the initiative to do the work that no one else wanted to, so I thought I had the right to complain.
This went on for 2-3 years, and I turned 26 years old. However, on the inside, I was still middle school aged. And most importantly, I truly believed that work was no big deal. I could do anything that came my way. I wouldn’t be outdone by anyone!
And so, Miss Scully said to me the line written at the beginning of the column.
“Yoshida-kun, if you’re going to brag, can you be less lame about it?”
I felt like my heart had been crushed under the weight of those words. As I sat there dumbfounded, she looked at me and continued:
“Even in Tokyo, I still hear stories about you. The managing director once complained to the president, ‘My project got cancelled because that guy opposed to it!’ And do you know what the president said? ‘Can you really call yourself the managing director if you got outplayed by someone who’s practically still a fresh recruit? It was Yoshida, wasn’t it.’”
“How many people are there that the president knows by name? The president, vice president, executive director, and managing director all know who you are. Meanwhile, I doubt anyone knows my name.”
She didn’t mince her words. I understood immediately what she was trying to say.
“Yoshida-kun, you’re different from other people. You’re good at getting things done, and even though you’re a cheeky brat, people are soft on you because you’re a hard worker. You hate losing, so you never abandon any task… You’re a capable worker. Your age has nothing to do with it. And you understand that yourself, right?”
I was so embarrassed, and I’m sure I averted my gaze downwards.
“You stand out because of your talent for work. You stand out because the people around you can’t work as well as you do. In that case, isn’t it the job of people like you to make people like me better at working? There’s no point in bashing people who you think are worse than you. So if you’re going to brag, do a better job of it instead of this half-assed crap. You’re going places, right?”
I couldn’t come up with a single rebuttal. I was truly lost for words. She’d called me out point-blank and I was utterly shaken—and it was at that moment that I realized I’d been looking down on Miss Scully, too. The 26-year old me was belittling those he thought were less skilled than him, all for his own ego. It was nothing more than self-satisfaction. Nothing more than boasting.
The alcohol drove off all of my internal conflict, and I answered honestly: “I understand. I won’t say any more of that. I’ll aim for greater heights.” I wanted to go higher and create more of my beloved games. That was the truth.
Miss Scully replied, “Alright, this conversation is over!” and we continued to laugh and drink, nothing having changed between us. Between then and now, we went for drinks many more times, but that topic never came up ever again.
Time passed, and two years ago, I became a company executive at Square Enix. I supervise Business Division 5 and lead a huge project called FINAL FANTASY XIV. I have hundreds and hundreds of employees working under me, and I meet with many people every day. Some people hunger to climb the corporate ladder, while others are content to simply devote themselves to their work. Everyone sees their work, their colleagues, their superiors, and their subordinates in their own different ways.
Among them are people that are how I was back then—despite their talent, they mockingly shout, “Let’s work even harder!” at their colleagues. This is a form of passion, so I won’t say that it’s wrong. But when you take it too far, others will interpret it as arrogance. In today’s society, it could even be seen as power harassment.
“If you think to yourself, ‘Since I’m better than everyone else, I’m not going to lose!’ then I think you can be arrogant in a good way.”
“If you acknowledge your own talent, then instead of battling against your colleagues and subordinates, it’d be cooler to battle your superiors. Because you won’t lose to anyone, right?”
Now, it’s my turn to pass on the words that I received from Miss Scully. Words are powerful. In particular, words that are spoken with heartfelt feelings behind them have the power to change lives.
To this day, I still have a foul mouth and flare up at my superiors (such as the president) all the time, but it’s thanks to that beautiful older woman that I am where I am today. Her words struck me like a giant hammer. I can say without a doubt that my 26th summer was the turning point in my life.
The person that I am is built upon the words I’ve received from those who care about me—and that includes the words I’ve received from our players. I’d like to continue to strive every day in my game development, with feelings of gratitude towards all of these people.
“A Candid Afterword II”
Continuing on from the preface, welcome to the afterword! And to everyone who started reading from the afterword: Hello!
Different people have different ways of reading a book:
- Some people read the preface, lose interest, and don’t read the book at all;
- Some people read the preface, read the entire book, and then reach the afterword;
- Some people read the preface, and then decide to read the afterword too before the rest of the book;
- Some people make it their policy to read the afterword first;
- And some people are reading inside the store and can’t decide whether they want to buy the book, so they decide to read the afterword.
Of course, there are several other possible cases, such as those who randomly decide to read the afterword while they’re partway through the book, or those who angrily read the afterword because they want to hear the author’s excuse for making them buy such a book. As you can see, the author of this book is quite argumentative. It might be too late to point that out now, but I’m just putting that out there.
Just as with the first book, when this book was slated to be novelized, I kept my proofreading to a minimum. Trends and technologies in the gaming industry move fast; it’s not unusual for information to become outdated within half a year. In my recent columns, I’ve tried to keep the content “universal” (since it’s hard to fix it later), but there are still some outdated parts.
Speaking of which, as I was proofreading, I realized that there’s a pattern to the variance in my writing style. Whenever I’m addressing customers or FFXIV players, my tone clearly becomes politer. When I’m just writing about everyday things, my tone is more direct. This inconsistency came about because I’m allowed to write however I like, so I’m grateful to the Famitsu editorial department and my editor, Kikuchi-san, for being so tolerant. (The most likely explanation is that I just scribble down my columns in whatever style I feel like writing in.)
As I mentioned in the preface, time sure flies. It’s been seven years since I took over FFXIV 1.0. Four-and-a-half years since ARR was released. This column has also continued for over four years, and even though it’s only biweekly, I’ve written over a hundred of them now.
I’m bad at sticking to things for a long time—my mother often lectured me, “Doing something once paves the way for the rest; perseverance makes you stronger. Putting off the things you don’t want to do and slacking off on what needs to be done is guaranteed to come back to bite you.” I truly hated this lecture, and I’d argue pointlessly with my mother in an attempt to justify my unwillingness. And of course, I never won the argument a single time…
That kid that was me grew up, joined the workforce, caused trouble for a lot of people with his immature thoughtlessness, and somehow managed to continue making games. My turning point in life came one summer, when I was 26. That was the bonus story written for this book.
People are prone to ignoring what others say to them, but when the words come from someone who’s truly concerned about your well-being, those words stay with you for life. Your life can totally change from those words.
The internet is an everyday part of life now, and when you go online, it’s easy to feel like you’ll drown in the flood of words and information. But what’s really important isn’t the words and information—it’s the emotions that they contain. I recalled this while writing that bonus story.
Now then, it’s about time to end this off. I’m indebted to many people for the work they’ve done on both the magazine serialization and the novelization.
Thank you to Ms. N from FFXIV’s PR department, who always manages my schedule and even negotiated my deadlines for me.
Thank you to Toshio “Morbol” Murouchi from the FFXIV community team, who is the first to read through my column manuscripts, giving me his impressions while fixing typos and phrasing.
Thank you to the PR office at Square Enix and everyone else who reviewed and proofread my columns due to their candid nature.
And of course, thank you so much to my assigned editor, Kikuchi-san, and everyone else in the editorial department for continuing to publish my column! Even though my uploads got closer and closer to the deadline as time went on (and past it at times…).
I didn’t think he’d accept my request, but just as last time, this book’s cover was illustrated by Akihiko Yoshida. Man, I was so surprised. I’m looking forward to his next FFXIV illustrations (this is a casual advance notice that we’ll be requesting more).
Also, for the obi strip for this book, we received a recommendation quote from Yasumi Matsuno, a game designer who I worship as a god! I am truly humbled that he would write an endorsement for someone as lowly as myself. Ahh, how frightening. I’m going to attain enlightenment from these divine words… (I’m terrified because they won’t tell me what he wrote.)
Last but not least, tremendous thanks to all of the readers of this book, and to all of FINAL FANTASY XIV’s Warriors of Light. When I can’t think of an idea for a column, I look on Twitter and other websites for people’s impressions and topic requests, so thank you for that. *laughs*
This column will continue to be published biweekly in Famitsu magazine. If reading this book didn’t make you want to rip it apart and throw it out, then please read the magazine, too!
December 25, 2017
Square Enix Co., Ltd. Executive Officer (Development)
Business Division 5 Division Executive
FINAL FANTASY XIV Producer and Director
Written while watching “Eorzean Symphony: FINAL FANTASY XIV Orchestral Album”
 TL note: The quote from Matsuno on the obi is: “Now THIS is a charismatic game designer! I’ve been in the game industry for 30 years, and after meeting and drinking with game developers revered as “gods”, I (Matsuno), hereby declare that Naoki Yoshida is a “god”, too!”