Over on the PlayStation.Blog.Europe, Jem Alexander managed to wrangle up a great Q&A with Final Fantasy XIII Producer Yoshinori Kitase and Director Motomu Toriyama. But Europe’s not stealing all the fun – We’re heading up to San Francisco later today to speak with Mr. Kitase and Mr. Toriyama, as well as FFXIII‘s Battle Director Yuji Abe for the first time. So now’s the time to get those final questions out there (That’s Final Fantasy XIII only, so please keep your questions on that topic. They won’t be discussing anything Versus- or Agito-related). We’re almost exactly a month out from the game’s release, after all!
I asked for your Final Fantasy XIII interview questions and you responded in earnest. Thanks so much for your many questions — they were far too numerous for me to ask them all, but I hope you agree that I covered all the important ones with the game’s Producer, Yoshinori Kitase, and Director, Motomu Toriyama. Can you believe it’s only four weeks until the game is in our hands? It’s been a long wait, but we’re almost there.
This interview will hopefully give you some insight into the development of the game, and get you interested in the other two Fabula Nova Crystallis games — Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Final Fantasy Agito XIII. As soon as Square Enix is ready to talk more about these titles, you can expect to see something here on PlayStation.Blog.
Do you have any plans for Final Fantasy XIII PlayStation Home content?
It is already happening in Japan. There will be costumes for Lightning and Snow, and there’s a personal space as well as chocobo and other character figures. We don’t know at the moment whether this will be brought to Europe.
Final Fantasy Versus XIII is part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series, but XIII and Versus XIII only share the same basic mythology. The fal’Cie and l’Cie are just a small part of this mythology, but the story and the characters are completely different.
Are there any games within the Fabula Nova Crystallis series that have yet to be announced?
At the moment we are concentrating on releasing Versus XIII and Agito XIII. At the moment we have no other specific plans to release any other titles as a part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series.
What made you decide to make Final Fantasy XIII a series, rather than a standalone title?
If you look back at the Final Fantasy series, at VII for example, this later let to Advent Children and Crisis Core. Also, for FFX, we created FFX-2 after its release. In those cases we obviously released the original title first and then created the sequel. This time we wanted to create several games in the same project from the outset.
Will there be an English demo?
We haven’t decided whether to make a demo available yet.
How much emphasis is placed on story and cutscenes in FFXIII? Do you feel it’s balanced with gameplay, or heavy on either side?
The basic playtime is about 50 to 60 hours, for the main story. Amongst which, the cutscenes make up about 10 hours. So, quite a large amount, with very high quality graphics, of course. So there’s plenty of story and gameplay to enjoy.
What will you be moving on to now that Final Fantasy XIII is finished?
At the moment we are still concentrating on finishing off and promoting the overseas version of Final Fantasy XIII, but many of the team have obviously accumulated a lot of knowledge and experience and they will be moved over to work on Versus and Agito. Personally, we don’t know what we’re going to move on to next.
How much sidequest content is there in XIII?
We call them “missions”, rather than “quests”. During the second half of the story, when the characters go down to a place called Pulse, there are many missions available there. In the majority of them the boss of the mission who you have to defeat, is more powerful than the main boss of the story. I’ve already told you that the basic playing time is 50 to 60 hours, but if you want to complete all the missions, the total time is probably twice that or more.
So what are the chances of a CG movie based on FFXIII, like Advent Children?
There are no plans at the moment, but once it is released over here and, if there are some particular characters or features that are received particularly well, then we might make a decision. And of course we need to see how it goes down sales-wise and regarding user reactions, first.
What are your feelings about the current state of the game industry in Japan, compared with the West and what Western games have you been most influenced by?
Some people have been saying that the Japanese game industry is dead, and all that… I dunno. I will say that Final Fantasy XIII is one really epic title for high definition consoles. With this game, we are going to resurrect the whole thing. As for Western games that have influenced us — FPSs mostly. The Call of Duty series, for example.
How do you feel about Yoichi Wada’s statement that Final Fantasy XIII will be the last game of its kind for Square Enix?
We don’t know exactly what he meant by that. We don’t really know what he meant by this style of game. If you consider that during Final Fantasy XIII’s development, at peak time the team consisted of over 300 people. It was a huge team, plus it took a several long years to get the game finished. So, if Mr Wada meant that we would never make another Final Fantasy title with the similar number of people, taking as long as FFXIII did, we would agree. Obviously in the future we want to be much more efficient. Having worked on XIII, we feel that we have got much better at making good games for high definition consoles. In the future our teams will be smaller and more effectively run. We suspect that is what Mr Wada meant by his statement.
The God of War HD remake for the PS3 has been very popular in the US and people in Europe are very much looking forward to it. Do you have any interest in creating an HD remake of a PS1 or PS2 Final Fantasy game?
We don’t know the details about the HD remake of God of War. If it’s just a case of attaining high resolution graphics, only, then that wouldn’t be that difficult, but if we were to achieve the same graphical standard as in XIII with a PS1 title, then that would be a huge, huge task. Almost unrealistic. Even with a PS2 title it would be difficult. In the case of God of War, there weren’t really that many characters in the game — the main character and some monsters, maybe ten people or so. That would not be unachievable. As with Final Fantasy titles in the past, like on PS1, even just the main characters amount to around 10 people. Then you have all the NPCs, you’re probably looking at about 200 characters total. All with individual textures for the skin, plus costumes, facial features and everything. That would be a really tricky job.
Will there be any New Game content in Final Fantasy XIII?
When you finish the main quest there are some growth elements of the the characters which will unlock once you’ve defeated the last boss. After this is done, you’ll be easily able to return to Pulse and take part in the many missions available there. There is no way to start the game again with your current character stats, however.
Is there a specific reason why Japanese voices were left out of the game?
For the European version, the facial expressions and lip synchronization are all lined up with the English lines, so the Japanese voices would not match up right. That was the main worry.
People are aware that there is a lot of content that has been cut from the game. Do you have any plans to use this content in the future?
You say “content” but, in reality, it’s more like “ideas”. Maybe a map was a little bit too complex and we felt like the player would get completely lost, so we simplified, or whatever. So this content won’t be coming out separately, as it has been binned.
Will there be a hard drive install available?
There is no installation, the game runs directly from the disc.
Finally, why does Sahz have a Chocobo in his hair?
What happened was, initially we only had a concept of this character being happy and jolly. Nomura designed the character and gave him an afro while, flippantly, drew a small chocobo next to him. As we looked at this, we liked the idea and the chocobo got added into the story. That’s how it happened.