Square Enix Discuss The Obstacles Of Developing For High-Definition Platforms

By Ishaan . February 4, 2010 . 12:18pm

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Final Fantasy XIII Scenario Ultimania is a behind-the-scenes production book about the game, released by publisher Square Enix, that gives readers insight into the development process and decisions that led to the final product.

 

Videogames blog The Lost Gamer recently translated select extracts from the book, which shed some light on why certain decisions regarding the game’s content were made, including the reason Final Fantasy XIII doesn’t include hub towns and is a far more streamlined and linear game than its predecessors. It would appear this decision arose from game director Motomu Toriyama’s desire to emphasize “non-stop” story advancement over traditionally playable game content, coupled with time and budget constraints involved in developing for a high-definition game console.

 

“Considering the amount of work to make graphics that deserve HD, it is hard to make towns in the conventional style,” reads a quote from Toriyama. He goes on: “In the limited period of development time, to convey the the great story that deserves the name of Final Fantasy, and to convey the battles that entertain players enough, we condensed each element.”

 

As previously reported, FFXIII protagonist Lightning’s home and rebel squad Team Nora’s secret base were among the elements cut from the final build of the game, allegedly due to “concerns about game balance and game volume.” The game’s art director Isamu Kamikokuryou has gone on record stating that enough content was cut from the retail build of Final Fantasy XIII to develop an entirely separate game.

 

It appears this train of thought also applies to a potential Playstation 3 remake of Final Fantasy VII. In a separate quote, Final Fantasy XIII producer Yoshinori Kitase states, “This issue is related to whether a Final Fantasy 7 remake will happen or not. It is very hard to make games on PlayStation 3 in the same style as the games in that era had. Making graphics will take enormous time.”


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  • Eddie

    I beat the game and I enjoyed but I will buy it again when it comes out over here so I can fully understand the game. That being said, I feel like there still should have been cities to explore. I understand that its time consuming and I understand that you have a set budget, but I will respect the decision to delay a product if you need to improve certain aspects. There is a difference between doing a Gran Turismo 5 move and doing a Duke Nukem Forever move. I just feel like if I speak very little Japanese there is no way I should beat a game thats in all Japanese. I was very happy with Final Fantasy 13 and I am sure that I’ll be very happy when I fully purchase it again in English, but I guess I just feel like somethings were left out that should not have been.

    • Aoshi00

      I haven’t finished the game yet, still at the tower on my way to Oerba. But I have a feeling you would be even more disappointed and like the game less once you understand the game in English because then you would actually realize how underwhelming the story and the script was. This is like the problem w/ movies, no matter how good the actors, when the script sucks it can’t be saved. Now I’m trying to force myself to finish the game before the US release, which I would double dip on day 1 as well, because that’s what I have done up until now, buying both Jpn and Eng. version of all the main FFs.

      I’m sure they were given a deadline to release it last year to drive up PS3 sales, I say if they gave this game another year or two, it would’ve been much more polished, but then it would suffer like FFXII people had to wait forever until the end of the PS2 console cycle. As it stands now, this game looks beautiful but lacks contents to let you appreciate how beautiful it is.

      P.S. What was worst though was the convoluted story was told so poorly. And after every a couple of mins, an exclamation mark would prompt you to go to the encyclopedia to read the “summary thus far”. yes, FFXIII expected to read on the story after some battles… that’s some bad pacing right there. The last thing you want to do is beat some monsters, punctuated by irrelevant cutscenes, and told to “read” to keep up w/ the story… amazing story telling there. Despite all my qualms w/ the game, I’m still getting the US ver. and the 5- disc soundtrack, I’m a sucker…

      • Eddie

        Yeah part of me did not want to point out everything negative because its a final fantasy game but I have to say although I speak as much Japanese as I do French (barely any) the story did seem a little underwhelming. I guess it seemed like everything was done through a flashback, and the only time it wasn’t was before a boss fight or a summon fight. Oddly once I beat the game I missed it… Can’t explain that though maybe it was the music… Also as for being sucker I am there what you buddy I will also still be buying the English version and the limited edition soundtrack. ^_^ Gotta love disc 2 track 13!

        • Aoshi00

          I’m still waiting for soundtrack in the mail. I like Hamauzu’s stuff, but it was hard for me to feel his music because I hardly cared about the story and characters if at all.. and during the course of the game, I felt there were only very few tracks used, like most of them were remixes.. so I kind of wonder what’s on the 5 discs, I hope it would be worth it, you got the CD drama episode 0 right? What’s disc2 track 13, Nautilus chocobo theme park song? I love that one. I think if Uematsu were to participate in this like he did in X, the soundtrack would’ve been awesome.

          As for the lines.. I don’t want to sound like a party pooper by being all negative, but there were so many points I was bored by the cutscenes (and it doesn’t happen often, I love cutscenes), I was like “What are you guys talking about?” The seiyuu cast was first rate, but sucky script. I think I might’ve liked the game more if I didn’t understand Jpn, that way at least I would be under the impression the story is deeper or something haha..

          So do you have something that resembles a town once you reach Oerba? How about the tower before it, I beat 3 monsters and went up to 4th Fl, and it’s asking me to beat 3 more, am I close to getting out of it? I’m sick of the tower, I want to enjoy outdoor nature :)

          P.S. It was precisely because I was so looking forward to the game I’m disappointed now, I thought great graphics, great music, great gameplay, they can’t miss.. but flimsy story and chars, no towns, no shops… I was like “is there a town yet, is there a town yet?” and then they gave you something that’s “kind of” like a town… I don’t mind story being told by flashback, that’s how FFX opened and it was a great ride, just not here.

          • http://pt-pt.facebook.com/people/Lyh-Scully/613703032 Lyh Scully

            arent we all suckers for squeenix? XD joke :P
            you have to get to the 7th floor Aoshi , then theres your tipical boss yatta … and you are free to move XD ! oerba is cool im still on it XD cant seem to figure something «« but ill try again today , O_O i havent played it in 2 weeks cause i watched alot on one piece episodes XD ! and yes i did miss the towns too T_T part of FF is breaking into people’s homes and take the loot XD ( yay thief ftw :P)…… i think i can say that FF13 is a preety movie , i bet if it was only a movie there wouldnt be so many complaints XD !

          • Aoshi00

            And the boss must be that flying thing around right? lol, breaking into someone’s home and steal stuffs, that’s one funny way to put it (and true, Glory of Heracles asked you if you “really” want to take people’s things, not sure what the consequences are). I’ve put down the game for 3 weeks and played an hour last night. I’m going to try to play more this weekend and hopefully beat the stupid game, there’s going to be a huge snowstorm here. It’s good to hear I would finally get to Oerba :) You’re right, if it were Advent Children people would let it slide and just praise the graphics, but XIII should be more than that.

        • Aoshi00

          I just gave the OST a listen, despite how many feel about the game, I guess all would agree this is a phenomenal soundtrack by Hamauzu. My favorites are “The Sunleth Waterscape” and “Serah’s Theme” on disc 2, both are vocal remixes of the track “Promise”, also the chocobo vocal theme was cute. I especially like the character themes of Lightning, Sazh (jazz), and Vanille. I just finished listening to the Episode Zero drama CD, I wish they could have incorporated those scenarios into the actual game somehow (and towns like Team Nora’s base, lol), it was quite moving and would’ve made me care a lot more about the characters. After all, it’s these little touches that make the characters come alive you know.. I have a thing for Hope’s mom lol :) Kind of short overall, so it would be nice if they record all 3 chapters instead of just the first one, hearing it w/ all the dialogue and sound effect is better than just reading you know… I like Drama CDs, like Magna Carta 2′s.

  • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

    “The game’s art director Isamu Kamikokuryou has gone on record stating that enough content was cut from the retail build of Final Fantasy XIII to develop an entirely separate game.”

    Ouch.

    • Eddie

      I realize he said that but my point is that it really took away from the game.

    • CdrCypher

      we all know very well at least 1 thing
      the higher the game definition gets( graphics, sound, etc) less space the disk will have, that we all know

      so its kinda understandable why the game is so called “linear”, to bad some fanboys and douche bags, sry for the language, dont understand that.

      IF in the future we have better FF’s i dont mind if they drop the quality for it abit.

      bk on the topic……..and to comment abit of Eddie 1st post, u got a point, making games isnt exactly easy, so yea guess they decide to cut on the towns and add on the exterior exploration (watched some vids of FF 13 on a youtube page of a guy) and i must say, the maps are freaking HUGE, yes the word is very apply-able there.

      think this is enough for 2 cents xD

      • Aoshi00

        Usually I would say those who complain about “linear” are jaded and are not suited to play JRPGs, but in FFXIII’s case, the path really is linear as all hell. Even by FFX’s standard. and I didn’t even feel FFX was linear back then. But FFXIII they made sure you feel like you only have a narrow path to go forward.. I know the story’s nature made it so since the whole crew is on an escapade, but no towns and locals to interact w/ (Mass Effect 2 and Lost Odyssey can do it, why not here?), the world of Cocoon is as dead as it can be.

        Again, I dismissed all the negative comments before I played it on my own, but those concerns were not from “whiners”, this game indeed has huge issues and is half baked, in that it has good graphics and a decent battle system, but FF is supposed to be better than that. I felt more immersed in the movie Avatar w/ its “Dance w/ the Wolves” plot than here, seriously.

  • Jirin

    I’m all for linear storylines, but making the world less explorable is a huge mistake that destroys immersiveness. Mass Effect doesn’t seem to have any problem making explorable cities. I’d rather have a Wii game than an HD game with all these corners cut.

    The explanation is stupid too. They say it was partly about cost cutting, and that’s fine. But, they cut out parts of the game to make ‘Non-stop plot’? I want a game, not a movie. The plot of a game gives it flavor, but the core of the game should be the experience of playing it. The last thing Final Fantasy needs is to be Metal Gear Solid. I want to be a participant in my games, not a spectator. That’s why I find games like Gears of War or Bioshock impossible to get into.

    • Aoshi00

      I couldn’t agree w/ you more. I immediately thought of Mass Effect 2 as well, the freaking “galaxy” is huge, there’s so many places and people you can talk to, in FFXIII, zilch! I knew it was time constraint and budget, that’s why I said all the effort has gone into beefing up the graphics and the story suffered, and the game was rushed out, people assuming contents were cut due to the 360 port was BS. I felt more “immersed” playing Blue Dragon or Lost Odyssey, you get a sense you’re explore the unique world in those RPGs.

      You summed it up perfectly w/ the world “spectator”. I never, repeat never have problem w/ JRPGs being a little more linear if a good story is told that way. But you know what, there isn’t a story, or only a very shallow one, and you feel like being rushed to the next “path” after several fights, then a boring cutscene, and fight, and a linear path. FF has never been so boring. I had high hopes for this game. And in terms of scope, this is complete 180 degree opposite from XII, even though I wasn’t too crazy about FFXII being too MMO-esque either.

      However, I don’t agree w/ you on Gears or Bioshock, I thought those stories were gripping, well, Gears is more about shooting. But Bioshock, it’s narrative is 100 times better than FFXIII here. Funny I so crave Bioshock’s LP instead of the Lightning LP.

      • Jirin

        I think the spell RPG plots had on me was kind of broken when I started watching better movies. When all you watch is the crap that’s been in the first run theaters for the last couple years, RPG plots come off as amazing. When you watch a few more of the all time classics or art house releases, they lose a lot of their glimmer. I realized what I really get from RPGs that I don’t get for other games is the feeling of plot interactivity. Games like Gears of War 2 and Bioshock have great production value, but no plot interactivity. You’re put somewhere, then NPCs tell you what to do, and you just go do it.

        If it doesn’t have enough plot interactivity to immerse me in the role, and the gameplay doesn’t stand up on it’s own without the plot and glitzy graphics, I’m not playing a game. I’m watching a movie with some gameplay. And I’ve got better movies.

        • Aoshi00

          I don’t mind games going the cinematic experience route, as production value increases and graphics are becoming more and more photorealistic. I actually watch all sorts of movies and all genres, from indies to blockbuster. When I play Uncharted, it felt like watching a B action movie, while the gameplay (shooting, light puzzles and platforming) were all fun. The roadie run in Gears was very immersive as well (there were so parts that reminded me of “Aliens”), or like Dead Space, I love that I’m being totally sucked into their worlds, I thought the level of interactivity was just right, all games are linear to some extent because it needs a coherent narrative, other than open world GTA-esque sandbox type of games.I would say that FFXIII has a weak storyline to begin w/, and take away all the towns, you’re left w/ basically nothing but battles. There was no platforming either, you get near a cliff the character jumps on its own.. when I saw a cool place in one of the FMVs (like a train station for example), how I wished I could walk around in it, alas you only got to “watch”.. I loved Bioshock though, still haven’t finished it, but the art deco setting is so classy yet unsettling, the audio tapes that get revealed bit by bit, the crazed Rapture denizens.. the submarine scene in the end of chapter too, I thought that was amazing, all hell breaks loose and I was scared, all that stands btwn you and the monsters was just a layer of glass.. I don’t think games that offer cinematic experience is bad, and movies are just different because it is two hours long and one could give it multiple viewings, compared to games (especially long RPGs) that you usually don’t play more than once, considering how many games there are nowadays, but I watch some of my favorite movies like 2 dozen times.

          • Jirin

            Offering a cinematic experience certainly isn’t bad. Just, I get the feeling in games like Gears of War/Uncharted I’m just being dropped in a place and led by the nose through a linear path, with stuff to shoot at showing up every once in a while. The gameplay is entirely driven by the plot, whereas the gameplay should be the core of the experience, and the plot should be extra.

          • Aoshi00

            I never thought about it that way, I thought the combat was diverse enough, like there are so many ways to take out a crowd, different guns or grenade, shoot or close quarter combat, use the environment to your advantage (cover system), steal enemies weapons and shields, stealth kills or run and gun, etc, also now they added online multiplayer mode in U2 and Bioshock 2, some value one over the other, I am always fine w/ just single player campaign. I mean that’s what it is, Gears and Uncharted are shooters that look like movies (w/ Uncharted having some platforming elements), Megaman is a platformer, SFIV is a fighter, FFXIII is a linear JRPG, Mass Effect is an open world WRPG. Just that even w/in that mold, XIII is a weak JRPG, because they pretty much took out the essences of what makes a good RPG, for one reason or another, be it sloppiness/negligence, developer’s skills levels, poor design choice, time/budget constraint, seems here everybody has their views. I really lean toward complacency, like S-E thinks graphics and combat are good enough, throwing out the towns wouldn’t affect the quality or the gameplay experience, or time constraint that they had the desire to do so but the game had to be rushed out 80% finished.

  • memcpy

    Is there honestly anyone believing that the additional content was not cut to allow Square-Enix to put out FFXIII-2 or what-have-you in a year? This game has been in development for ages and must have been astronomically expensive. I can’t imagine them making enough money back out of a single release.

    • Aoshi00

      I don’t doubt this explanation, imagine you take out the towns of FF7-10, 13 is a bit like that, I don’t think they would do something like that w/ the game’s initial release even if there will be an inevitable international version down the road.

  • idofgrahf

    I agree with most points but the graphics one. I know of several games that has better graphics but did not take as long to make (ND’s Uncharted 1 and 2 and they did not think it’s too hard to make a ps3 or HD game, Gears of war 1 and 2, Mass effect 2 only took what, 2 years to make and it looks as good, Dragon age is another one although the console version of the game doesn’t look so hot). That and i’m having trouble believing the HD graphics is costing square enix so much that they are running into budget constraints, I didn’t hear NG having a budget problem with uncharted and that game imo looks better (granted they probably got some money from sony but even still), so whatever the cause, I don’t think its budget, time or graphics, they had ages to make this game, FF has always had a huge budget (except for the first one of course) and graphics, I’ve seen much worse but I’ve also seen better too.

    • Aoshi00

      I think the main problem is time, if this was tweaked for another year or 2, and towns/shops/NPCs were added back in then this game would not feel so “unbalanced”. As of now, it seems all the resources went into graphics and the battle system. I don’t know how much things cost, but pre-rendered FMVs don’t come cheap right? It’s sad really, this game has a lot of potential.. the battle system really isn’t bad (except sometimes it doesn’t do the things you want it to do, the semi-auto gambit-like team formation.. and sometimes there’s no time for manual control because the battles are so fast paced), I just had a hard time caring about the story and the characters and immerse my entire self in the unique world that were in so many FFs.. Spira was pretty lively for the world of the dead, and yet here Cocoon is what it is, an empty shell. And the horrible thing is I didn’t see this coming, w/ its epic looking trailers and awesome theme song… the PR did a good job putting together the trailers.

      • idofgrahf

        I know FMV’s don’t come in cheap but games like uncharted 2 had graphics good enough that it can render using the game engine and not use FMV’s at all, it works very well and I really couldn’t tell the difference. This game has been in production forever, I don’t think time should be an issue. Mass effect 2 or even one took at most 2 years to make, both looks good and both have alot of back story, immersion factor, making you actually feel like you are traveling the galaxy, speaking to people etc and Mass effect 2 even had to take into account what you did in MS1 and change itself accordingly and bioware still manage to finish it in ~2 years, don’t know what square enix’s excuse is since FFXIII has been in development more than what, 4 years now?

        • Aoshi00

          Not sure, how many years was FFXII in development? I remember it was delay upon delay, and that wasn’t even in HD. I feel like they just concentrated on the wrong stuffs and say to themselves “okay, I guess this would do for the story”, and maybe needed more time, but if it takes too long, then people would be put off by the delays and not care anymore, because this is supposed to give PS3 console sales a boost at the right moment.

          The in-game cutscenes in FFXIII were great too, but when a real FMV kicks in, you know you’re in for a treat and it looks awesome in Advent Children level quality. They really could’ve gone w/ just in-game ones, like MGS4 and many other games. If the uncompressed FMVs were out, then it would even fit on one or two discs on 360. I know in-game cutscenes are good, but if you look at the pre-rendered FMV trailers for Dragon Age, Mass Effect 2, and Bioshock 2, of course real time don’t even come close to pre-rendered. And I still love them because I remember they were some kind of rewards, like a 15 sec or 30 sec movies that took my breath away in FF7,8,9, or 10. 12 I didn’t care much about.

          I believe it’s resources and money because FFVII HD still hasn’t been remade, I bet the cost would be astronomical if this is the best they could come up w/ XIII. There was no way they wouldn’t pull out all the stops if they could, because this is supposed to be FFXIII, each FF is supposed to outdo the last one, and anticipation was high. Hence now we have so many people disappointed. Maybe the whole Cocoon-Gran Pulse story just didn’t work from the get go and the writers had trouble fleshing out the concept. I don’t know. Play it for yourself and I’m interested in what others think once they have a chance w/ the game.

          Other than time and resource constraint, I don’t know why this RPG would feel so empty, none of the past FFs did. It really doesn’t make sense they would make a half baked game for such a big title, even people say they would add in those things later for double dip.

          Yeah, Mass Effect 1 & 2 are indeed amazing. I’m debating if I should get the Bioshock 2 SE, the artbook and vinyl are tempting, but $100… and I’m not sure if the sequel is even good.. I don’t even have a turntable..

          The pacing was simply horrible, I truly think that could’ve been remedied (at least partially) if there were some towns to break up the boredom, and just let player enjoy exploring Cocoon, even if for a little bit. Instead they game just puts you somewhere in Cocoon, I was like “what the hell am I?”

  • badmoogle

    I just want to say that it was far more interesting to read the user posts here than Toriyama’s excuses.
    Keep it up guys.:)

  • http://www.twitter.com/christaran Chris Taran

    This is the saddest excuse I’ve ever heard come out of this company. Their western counterparts take half the time and make giant open worlds that look just as good as FFXIII. Heck, even other Japanese developers have done more with less time (Mistwalker for instance).

    Less development time, tremendously larger worlds, detailed HD art. This is further excuse for their years of delay.

    • Hraesvelgr

      Yeah, pretty much what I was planning to say.

    • MisterNiwa

      Hey but you gotta understand! Its their first PS3 game! And they just do DS or PSP games, which are still last gen Graphic so they arent really familiar with that!
      Square Enix is a special case, dont forget that!

      As if, because THEY ARE Square Enix, we should think they would do something like this in no time.
      But nooooo, they need to suck, once more.

    • Ereek

      They make open world games, but many are glitchy as hell. Just for fun, look at the Oblivion or Fallout wiki. On some pages there’s more space devoted to “bugs” than there is actual information on quests and areas to explore. This isn’t limited to Bethesda either, a lot of western companies have this problem. Dragon Age -not even open world -has its fair share of glitches and bugs too.

      SE has a good QA department at the very least. I’d rather have a smaller game without the bugs and glitches.

      • Joanna

        I’d rather have a bigger game with decent graphics, then a smaller game with amazing graphics. But that’s just me. I’m still going to pick up FFXIII just to see how the game is, but I won’t be picking it up day one. I’ll probably wait for a price drop.

        • Ereek

          I’m not talking about graphics. I’m talking about buggy games.

          I don’t know if you play a lot of WRPGs, but almost all “big” WRPGs are buggy, a trait that JRPGs don’t share. Bethesda is the best known culprit of this, but BioWare is at fault as well. I use those two because they’re two “large” companies, like Square. Square’s big games are not buggy. In fact, you’d actually have to look for the bugs to actually find them. By just casually playing a Bethesda game you’re going to run into a bug. A complete playthrough will give you countless bugs, stuck characters (they don’t know how to program their followers. Period), and freezing. BioWare is a bit better, as their bugs happen mostly on quests, but some can be potentially bad.

          • Joanna

            from what I understood of the discussion was that people were complaining about the lack of a bigger world/towns. You said that while WRPGs do have those they are buggy. Everyone was suggesting (or at least that is what I understood) that these cities/ bigger worlds are so difficult to do because of the graphics/technology. So I was suggesting making weaker games, graphically with bigger worlds and no bugs. Rather then bigger game, better graphics and bugs. Make sense? I think I assumed my jump from bugs to graphics was understood.

  • http://twitter.com/Askinya Bri

    You guys really have no idea how much it costs to make a game do you.

    The budget isn’t only limited to design elements. When a game is given a budget is is spread across to the devs, the testers, the producers, the marketing and the any necessary tools needed to make the game. Not to mention paying for the structures they work in, keeping it powered, and keeping it maintained.

    Yes SQENIX has a lot of money, but they also have other things that take into their budget as a company.

    We can also factor in the fact that it was made for PS2 and then moved over to PS3, so this is their first PS3 FF title. Also, tying in the fact that it was made for 360 as well as PS3 doubled their work.

    Let’s also throw in that although Squenix is loved as much time as they were working on this game without releasing it actually hurts in the long run.

    I understand fans are pissed about the game, and it didn’t live up to their standards, but someone’s gotta play devil’s advocate here.

    • Hraesvelgr

      Read Chris Taran’s comment. Other companies are doing what Square Enix claims is “too hard” or will “take too much time” in much less time and on a smaller budget, in some cases. Sure, FFXIII might be prettier than some games, but there’s more to overal atmosphere than really pretty graphics that provide little interaction.

      Really just seems like Square Enix being lazy, to me. Granted, I don’t really care about an FFVII remake, as I’d rather see new games rather than remakes of overrated old ones.

    • badmoogle

      “Also, tying in the fact that it was made for 360 as well as PS3 doubled their work.”

      But it also doubled (or tripled) their budget.;)

      Honestly i think FFXIII is the outcome of design choices rather than budget and time constrains.
      The people responsible for these choices should be brave enough to stand by them rather than hiding behind lame excuses.
      I think they own it to the people who worked so hard under their orders to make the game as good as possible.

      • Aoshi00

        At first I thought S-E was just being “sloppy” or it’s bad design choice, if that’s the case, then it’s a very poor decision since I felt they have pulled out all the stops for all previous main FFs up until now, and this one shouldn’t be an exception. I’m not sure if these are excuses, maybe they are, I’m no expert on programming and development cost, but I can’t fathom how much some extra towns would cost, I thought they were too lazy to write dialogues for the NPCs too. Maybe like MisterNiwa mentioned, this is S-E’s first next gen game (but then the LO team had an even worse hurdle w/ Unreal Engine code being written in English).. If it’s not a money issue, then it’s most likely a time issue. Because like I said, the team was probably forced to make this Dec 2009 deadline, and maybe they could use another half year or a year. Also since they are doing mulitple XIII games, like this, Versus, and Agito, maybe resources are spread further thin too?

        At any rate, this is very disappointing, since obviously this game should have much more but don’t, for one reason or another.

        • badmoogle

          Personally i never thought that they were being “sloppy”,if there’s one thing i can give to SE is that they are always striving to reach the highest standards of quality in their games.And i wouldn’t say that FFXIII’s game design was a “good” or “bad” choice.
          It was just a choice,a choice to aim for a movie-like experience that flows smoothly and with as few interruptions as possible.I don’t believe that technical difficulties determined the design of the game because to put it simply that’s not like the Square Enix we know.
          I believe that Toriyama and his team concsiously decided to recreate the success of FFX.
          However this kind of game design is a double edged sword IMO.It can work extremely well if you happen to like the story and characters (like i did with FFX) but if you don’t happen to like them then the game can become very boring no matter how good the battle system may be.
          On the other hand if you have a more open-ended design,with lots of exploration,sidequests and mini games,in the end you may end up enjoying the game even if you don’t care about the story and characters.That was the case for me (and many others) with FFX-2 and FFXII.
          Toriyama gambled with the design of FFXIII when he decided to focus on the story and characters so he should at least stay by his choice IMO.

          Also if we are to believe what Toriyama says is true,then we must assume that Versus will also be full of corridors and have no towns,something that i find very hard to believe.
          If anything from a couple of (blurry) screens that we have seen so far from Versus,there are indications that at least it will have an overworld.

          • Aoshi00

            I don’t know, the pacing and character development are kind of screwy in FFXIII. If Toriyama wanted to tell a good story w/ good characters, then he didn’t do a good job of that either. In fact I feel even less for them than I do the chars in XII, and that’s saying a lot. I’m not sure if you’ve played the game yet, but the way the story is told is very shallow, the background of the characters are spotty at best. I loved FFX to death, X-2 was fun, XII I’m mixed because the license board was a pain in the neck and it was just too much MMO-like, and I don’t like MMOs. Problem is that the same audience who liked X do not like XIII now, I still remember fondly Tidus, Yuna, Wakka, Rikku, Auron, and Kimahri, and probably wouldn’t forget them in the years to come, but sadly I can’t say the same about Lightning, Snow, Fang, Hope, Vanille, and Sazh. Sazh is probably the only interesting character and even then he’s still not that deep… If you think the main chars are bad, wait till you see what happen to the bad dudes (you know the spiky hair general dude and librarian glasses chick) who were featured so prominently in the trailer, you would never have guessed. I dont’ want to spoil, but it’s pathetic (people seem to have a hard time believing me.. I don’t blame them, I refused to trust the reviews either, but they were all true) I can’t imagine how Versus is going to be, like a modern J-pop boy band or something… Again, I didn’t want to think they were lazy either, but getting rid of the towns is a huge mistake. I thought for sure I was going to like the game, because it looked like a combination of VIII and X in design, and a bit of X-2 and Xenosaga 2 when it comes to its battle system. If I’m not mistaken, I think this is one of the least liked FFs, well FXII in Jpn too because they didn’t like MMOs as much as the West.

          • badmoogle

            No i haven’t played the game yet (only the demo),but i can see your point.
            From what i’ve seen and read so far (while trying to stay away from spoilers) i can’t say that i’ll be interested in the plot and characters.

            But my point is that the linear structure and the focus on story may have been great 10 years ago but i don’t think it’s the way forward.There were many things i didn’t liked in FFXII but i think it’s design is more towards the right direction than say,FFX (even though personally i liked FFX more.)

            I think SE should try and find new ways to tell their stories by playing more with the medium’s strengths rather than weaknesses.
            For example the developers of Heavy Rain found a unique way to combine the strengths of video games with traditional movie storytelling and managed to make the story itself “open ended”.And when you have an open ended story i imagine that it will be difficult for people saying “i didn’t liked the plot” when your choices play so big a role.
            Another different example is the way Team Ico tells their stories.Again it’s hard to find someone saying he didn’t liked the story in Ico or SotC.

            I’m not saying that SE should copy the storytelling style of the games i mentioned,but i think they should at least rethink and re evaluate the ways of conventional storytelling if they want their games (and stories) to appeal to as many people as possible.I always thought of SE as a company that is willing to take risks and try new things so maybe the polarized reactions regarding FFXIII may finally ring some alarm bells.

          • Aoshi00

            Personally I dont think there’s anything wrong w/ the old school method of story telling, or the traditional turn based battle system (Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, ASH were all fun for me, I can’t say for the other people). Lost Odyssey by Sakaguchi was great and as I mentioned before I thought of it as practically being FFXI. Kaim, Seth, Jensen, etc are all interesting and memorable. I think the main problem for JRPG is the Western audience who enjoyed the PS/PS2 era of RPGs have shrunk in general, and is very niche now. It’s not a popular genre, but the FF brand still carries a lot of weight because of the success established by the previous installments. If they do something like FFXII by making it more MMO-like catering to the West, the Jpn audience would not like it which was what happened, nobody there liked gambits. I mean look at DQ IX, it’s pretty much the same thing design wise (Toriyama art, Sugiyama music) and gameplay wise, no drastic changes and people gobbled it up, because they think that’s the essence of the Dragon Quest series. W/ Sakaguchi gone though, I think the identity of FF (mostly the human touch, as corny as that theme sounds) has been lost w/ the series being taken into all sorts of direction, XI online, XII MMO-like, XIII being X-Lite w/ no towns, XIV being online II, it’s like all sorts of different games even w/in the flagship series, not even counting the CC or Tactics spinoffs. I like FF 1-10 because they were that sort of game, even though the settings may range from medieval fantasy to futuristic, but they all told a good story (well, the NES ones were more primitive) and have memorable characters, we might not think that because we are all older now. Frankly I have to say right now I’m looking forward to Sakaguchi’s Last Story more than XIII Versus, 14 , or what they’re cooking up for 15. I remember I used to look forward to every new FF that comes out, but not anymore (I still do but found myself disappointed by 12 & 13 now). If you asked gamers who have grown up playing FF I’m sure they probably feel the same. I don’t think it’s fair to ask a JRPG to emulate elements from other titles because they are essentially different genres, Heavy Rain being an thriller/adventure game. Choices are good like in Mass Effect 2, but JRPGs were never really about choices in the first place (as I thought Xenosaga Ep 1-3 were also good for an Epic Sci-fi RPG in the JRPG kind of way). Story was pretty much set like a book, what’s important is how it is “presented”, and Lost Odyssey did a bang up job, even though it did “cheat” w/ the novellas, they were beautifully written though, not like the bland summaries here in XIII. Not sure what m point is anymore haha.. but the conclusion is that XIII is just underwhelming in many respects. Linear is fine if it’s done correctly, like MGS4, you don’t get to go anywhere, but it was a story well done even if it’s a little Kojima kind of over the top. But here the main problem is there is no immersion factor. There are very few JRPGs that I can say I don’t care about the characters at all.

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