Famitsu Interviews Final Fantasy XV Creators

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

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Hajime Tabata and Takeshi Nozue, courtesy of Famitsu.

Hajime Tabata and Takeshi Nozue, courtesy of Famitsu.

Weekly Famitsu’s Editor in Chief, Katsuhiko Hayashi, has conducted a very thorough interview with the creators of Final Fantasy XV during their Final Fantasy XV Uncovered event last week. Jake Ayres (Impetus) has also provided an English translation here, which I strongly recommend you check out in full. But I’ll provide some highlights here. They also give some interesting tasty bits about the tormented, and largely panned, release of Final Fantasy XIII (although I must admit to being a vocal supporter of those three games).

Famitsu: “The recent announcement gave us a good sense of how the project as a whole is looking. The project had to overcome a number of hurdles to get this far, from a change in title, to a new director. Could you start by telling us what core idea was driving the development team as they worked on FFXV?”

Tabata: Initially, as a company, we really wanted to make things up to the fans of the franchise, who’d been left waiting quite a while for the release of FF Versus XIII. One thing we knew we had to do when restarting the title as FFXV, was modernize Final Fantasy. In other words, make a Final Fantasy that can compete in the modern era of gaming. To do that, we decided we needed to think of Final Fantasy as a challenger in the games market, and do everything we could to make it succeed.

As suspected, the scale and the scope of the presentation and all their full on blitz of setting up the game seems to be strongly predicated on making up for that ten year wait for the game. That is actually a good sign that they are at least cognizant of what their fans are thinking about Final Fantasy at this point. And this is addressed again here, as well as some information on FF XIII.

–“By that, would you say you have a sense of concern surrounding the current FF franchise?”

Tabata: Yes, I was indeed concerned. But that sense of urgency only increased after I got involved with the project. When it was decided that we’d be going ahead with FFXV, I noticed a rapidly building feeling, both within the company and among other companies; especially in the responses of foreign developers, that Final Fantasy as an IP (Intellectual Property) was in danger. I was now in a position directly exposed to this sense of crisis.

–“Quite the load to bear when just getting started.”

Tabata: That’s right. However, whether or not the IP was in danger, the reality was that the games being produced just weren’t the games the developers set out to make. I’m aware that there’s a lot of criticism surrounding FFXIII, however the end product wasn’t what the developers initially envisioned; their sights were originally set higher. Despite that, the title was criticized as being linear. That wasn’t something planned for by the developers, the reality is that the higher requirements of developing an HD game, while adhering to their tried-and-tested way of doing things, determined what they came up with. If anything, overcoming the reality of this situation was the biggest issue that needed addressing. The crisis surrounding the IP further compounded this main problem.

Here we also have a commentary on how the Japanese video game industry as a whole is viewing the competition with the West for the HD generation of gaming.

–“Sounds like you were thorough. I feel the success of your restructuring pivoted on the fact that each member of the team shared the passion to create a successful FF title, to rally their strength and, dare I say, make a comeback.”

Tabata: That’s right. The FF franchise might be struggling, but deep down I think each of us knew we were yet to be defeated. People often talk about how Japan has been trailing behind the West since entering the HD-age, but we want people to know that battle wasn’t lost by us, we’re only just stepping up to the plate. I was certain that Japanese games would be able to compete on the world stage, but as we ourselves weren’t working with HD platforms at the time, we hadn’t even entered the race back then. That’s why we’re keen to take up the mantle and succeed. Don’t count us out just yet, we’re just getting started.

And here is some more in depth information about the production of the movie, that we have not heard yet.

–“Hollywood! How did you approach the production process?”

Nozue: We have an internal team of 50 or so, which brings our supervisors together and are working with various production teams around the world. Other studios we’ve got onboard include Digic Pictures, known for their work with Assassin’s Creed, and Image Engine, known for their work on Hollywood productions including Jurassic World and Game Of Thrones. I think we would have needed around 500 people if we had had to have the entire team in Japan. The project never sleeps, with the Los Angeles team working during our mornings, and the European team working through our night.

There is a lot more quality information in there, so I won’t deprive them of the website traffic. Definitely check out the link above to read the whole interview.

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About William Haderlie

Born in the 1970's, I've been an avid participant for much of video game history. A lifetime of being the sort of supergeek entrenched in the sciences and mathematics has not curbed my appreciation for the artistry of video games, cinema, and especially literature.