Earlier in the week, we told you we’d be meeting up with Square Enix to talk Final Fantasy XIII with Producer Yoshinori Kitase and Director Motomu Toriyama, along with the Battle Director Yuji Abe. So all your questions went to the former, which you can read in full form below.
But the FFXIII love fest didn’t end there. With the game less than a month away (March 9!), Jeff and I got to play a nice chunk of the game…enough to get familiar with the battle system to chat all about it with Mr. Abe. In the video, you’ll get an in-depth look into the game’s battle system, which I have to say, once you understand it, it’s quite intense.
PSB: With western RPGs becoming so popular, how were you influenced in Final Fantasy XIII to encompass all audiences? – via DMPrince
Kitase/Toriyama: No games were a direct influence in particular, but we definitely looked at the FPS genre and other Western games to incorporate more speed and increase the pace of gameplay in Final Fantasy XIII. In terms of the FPS genre influence, the story progression of FFXIII is very similar to that (FPS) genre in the sense that different challenges and situations are presented to the character one after the other. That’s how they progress in the storyline.
Of course, there are a lot of North Americans that imported the game. What do you say to those who say the game might be too linear? Does the accusation bother you?
The earlier part of the game was intentionally created to be a linear experience because we wanted to make the experience similar to a movie or drama where players really get to know the characters and what is behind their actions.
And also, since this is a brand new system for FFXIII, we wanted to take the correct steps to make sure players can control that system at will. So it is a surprise that so many people are commenting that the game is linear, but once you get into the area of Pulse in the game , it’s much more of a free world and the battle system really comes to life. And once you have a good idea of how to control it, you can go full force and it should be a completely different experience.
Do you think that the idea of RPGs from the 80s and 90s being wide open is a dated stereotype?
There’s sort of a template to the RPG system, traditionally, where players would go to the town and find out information through text, leave town to fight monsters and then come back to town and buy health and items, etc. FFXIII didn’t really look for some sort of template to follow, but we tried to go out and create and set a new trend for RPGs. So there isn’t really a thought to stick to tradition.
How long would a play-through of the game with missions take?
As far as hours, of gameplay…if you play straight through the story it would be about 60 hours of gameplay. But if you decided to play through all the missions, it would be, well, basically eternity. It could last forever. The enemies in the Pulse area are much stronger, as well, so there’s lots of replay value there.
What is the native video resolution and audio format on the PS3? – via kturcotte
Final Fantasy XIII runs in 720p and Dolby Digital 5.1
Final Fantasy traditionally chooses a song to accompany the game. Why did you go with Leona Lewis in the Western version instead of a traditional Japanese artist? – via ROFLdrg
Previous FF titles brought over the Japanese songs to the Western versions of the game, but we felt that with a song that’s sung in a language that’s understandable to North American or European users, it would bring the game closer to the player and depart from the idea that Final Fantasy is a game that comes from overseas. Overall, it would tighten the relationship between the player and the game, so that’s why we decided to go with an English theme song.
Are they any plans for PlayStation Home integration with FFXIII in North America? – via Jetup
As you know, there’s some activity in the Japanese PlayStation Home but for North American activities, things are still in the planning stages and there’s nothing confirmed at this time.
How does Final Fantasy XIII compare to the First Final Fantasy game that you worked on? – via KazeEternal
(Toriyama): The first FF game I worked on was FFVII, and similar to XIII, it was a title that brought a drastic series as a whole (moving also from the Nintendo platform to PlayStation), the graphics were extremely renewed and different, so there was a huge jump there.
For FFXIII, it’s the first time the series is coming to high-def consoles, and the graphics are so high-quality that you can express very detailed expressions and emotions.
So did you see a lot of the same challenges with FFXIII that you saw with VII?
The challenges were different because with FFVII, the team was in the dark and 3D graphics were so new that they really had to figure things out from scratch. So they got a hold of the 3D technology with VII, and fined tuned it for X, so with XIII, it’s kind of going along the same path. The team already has this knowledge and skill to work on 3D graphics, but of course with XIII things are so much more polished and the level of the CG movies are on par with movies. The team is really looking to inspiration for movies for comparison points for FFXIII. So the challenges were different for both games.
What did you learn from working on your first high-definition FF game? – via Shadow780
One thing that the team, and especially the art team can take from the experience of developing FFXIII to future titles is the CG tech, especially the textures for the characters. For previous gen consoles, the art was essentially drawn and it was more of illustration work. But for FFXIII, a lot of CG tech was involved and getting the art and texture of the skin right was a key component for FFXIII…definitely something that the team will take to future titles.
And of course every developer is really looking to make their characters and worlds look as realistic as possible, but we wanted to go one step behind and evoke emotion through the characters. The shine of the lip or the look of the stockings can evoke a sexual tension. The same goes for the male characters…we want the fans to think they are cool, and they are more than just a game characters.
What was it like working on the PS3 for the first time?
The PS3 is definitely a spectacular machine and the team was really able to realize its visions for the characters and graphics, and at the same time, were able to have big onscreen battles going on. The PS3 hardware was something that really helped envision the game.
I heard there was content removed from the original game? Could it possibly resurface as DLC? – via @ericsavatar
Regarding the DLC content, we feel that the final product is 100% enjoyable…it’s the complete package. So we’re not planning any DLC at this time. In regard to the rumored cut content, we feel it was taken out of context. There are a lot of ideas that are brought to the table, and then the team takes the best ideas out of those, and the final product is polished that way. There was content that were “ideas” that didn’t make the final content, but the team isn’t looking to release that as downloadable content.
In FFXIII, it seems like there’s a movement toward more realistic characters. What’s the direction you’re going with these particular characters?
There is definitely a conscious movement toward depicting emotion and realism for the characters. The team wants to create characters that mature audiences can relate to, as well.
Any news on Agito or Versus?
No set date yet, so you can keep on the lookout for new information. And though we can’t really go into detail, a quick overview of the status of development; 100-200 staff members from FFXIII are now finished with the game, and all the people that have been working on it, they have all this knowledge of PS3 tech (and PSP) and they can bring it to these different teams and the development speed will probably increase.