Final Fantasy XIII Interview
Posted on Wednesday, March 24 @ 18:17:01 Eastern by Blake_Morse
Kickin' it new old-school.
A couple week ago GR was invited to a sneak peek at the soon-to-be released Final Fantasy XIII. And because we're so unbelievably super cool, we were given the additional privilege of having a lovely round table discussion with some key members of the development team: Designer Motomu Toriyama, Battle Director Yuji Abe, and Producer Yoshinori Kitase.
Along with fellow gaming journalist Rey Gutierrez from Destructiod, we sat down at a table much larger than necessary with the Eastern developers and a very polite, soft-spoken translator lady to talk about everything from dev cycles to the morbid cuteness of a Tonberry. And I'd like to think we learned a little something too, and maybe, just maybe, learned something about ourselves in the process. So here are the questions as asked in English, translated to Japanese, answered in Japanese, translated to English, audio recorded, and then transcribed by me. Enjoy!
Game Revolution: Final Fantasy is a twenty-year old franchise. What's it like being a part of that legacy?
Abe: I'm the newest member of the team. And this is the first time I've worked on a Final Fantasy title. When VII came out, I was still just a consumer. I'd never been involved in creating games at all. Coming from there, when I was approached by the HR team and asked if I liked the series, I said, “Of course... it would be an honor to work with the team.”
GR: In the last three Final Fantasies, the way that the battle system works has changed dramatically. What do you feel is the most drastic change?
Abe: When we first decided to put together this battle system, the base concept was always to create something [sic] speedy and tactical. So that was always our goal and we were working towards creating a battle system that could achieve that sort of experience. The main difference between previous FFs and the battle system of XIII is there's no real micro managing of each character, [each of their party members] within the system. It's more about looking at the overall flow of the battle and changing your actions according to the tide of battle.
Destructiod: A female lead - talk about that. FF been known to have very strong male leads. XIII has a very beautiful, strong female lead. Talk to us about why you went that route.
Toriyama: Traditionally in FF games, the female characters - there have been female characters in leading roles, but they've always been very feminine. They didn't really have this inner strength that Lightning has. And so we really wanted to create something, a character that was different, a female character that even guys could look to and think that she was really cool. She's not just beautiful on the outside, [she's also] very powerful... plus she has this great inner strength.
In creating the Fabula Nova Crystallis umberella for the entire Final Fantasy XIII project, we really wanted to take [FF] to the next level. And one of the main differentiating factors was to create this new type of hero for the series.
Destructoid: It took five years to develop FFXIII. Mass Effect games are being developed in two to three years. Talk about the challenges of trying to pierce into the western development cycle.
Kitase: The development side is always looking to be working in a productive environment and always looking to shorten the time spent in development. So that's definitely moving forward, something we'll be considering as well, but in terms of XIII, just going back and looking at what exactly was taking place throughout development: The game was first started up as a project for the PS2, but development from the high-def consoles point on was about three to four years. So it's a little shorter than people might currently perceive it as. And also just in terms of localization, it's fully lip-synched for different regions... Mass Effect 2 doesn't have a localized Japanese version yet. When taking all that into consideration... it was a decent amount of time spent on XIII. It isn't overwhelmingly long, but we definitely like to bring games to users as quickly as possible.
GR: It's been said that there was enough game taken out to make another game. Are there any chances of seeing a direct sequel, like FFX-2 or a director's cut?
Kitase: The content that was said to be cut from the final product are actually different ideas that arise in any kind of development environment where there's a ton of ideas on the table at first, but the team selects the best out of those to create the final product. So there's no plans to use that content that was set aside because it wasn't a right fit... but you mentioned X-2... that sequel was created because players really reacted well to the content and the characters in the world of X. And so, because there was that demand, the team decided to create this additional component to the game. And so with XIII, aside from the fact that there's this cut content that exists, if players really enjoy the world and there is a voice out there [from] players wanting to play more of the world of FFXIII, that is definitely something we'd consider.