Final Fantasy XIII Director Answers Your FFXIII Questions

By Spencer . March 18, 2010 . 5:27pm

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Well, most of them. When we spoke with Motomu Toriyama, Director of Final Fantasy XIII, we brought your questions. In this interview we discuss Japanese voiceovers, the cut content, and lessons learned post development.

 

When you sat down to create Final Fantasy XIII what did you have in mind?

 

Motomu Toriyama, Director: The base concept we had in mind when we started creating this game was it would be the ultimate single player RPG. Final Fantasy XIII incorporates a strong story driven element and a speedy and tactical battle system.

 

Final Fantasy XIII is part of a family of games in the Fabula Nova Crystallis series such as Versus XIII and Agito XIII. How does this game relate to the others?

 

The Fabula Nova Crystallis is not really a compilation in the sense a lot of people would be familiar with. Basically, there is one common crystal mythology that binds all of the concepts together. Each team behind these games have taken this mythos and taken their own interpretation of it, whether it is story or battle system. This type of process was implemented so each team can maximize their creative vision.

 

There is nothing from Final Fantasy XIII that carries over to Versus or Agito, just that Crystal mythology.

 

We saw the trailer of Final Fantasy XIII in 3D. Have you thought about making a Final Fantasy XIII in 3D?

 

3D is probably going to be a key component of next generation’s hardware. Final Fantasy XIII was created for the current generation’s hardware. We feel that 3D is very interesting and intriguing option to explore when creating games for the next generation’s hardware, whatever that may be.

 

In another interview, the art director mentioned a bunch of cut content like a zoo in the amusement park and a secret base for Nora in Lebreau’s shop. How far in development were these elements.

 

The content that was cut were in various stages of development. We took a step back from having a lot of ideas upfront and then cutting them a little by little as the game was being completed. This is a normal process when developing a game, so this is not particular to Final Fantasy XIII. If we did cut the content it wasn’t fit for the final product, which is why it didn’t make it in.

 

Since the content was cut for a reason it probably wouldn’t resurface. We’re not saving it for anything.

 

nat

 

I know you haven’t announced any downloadable content, but as a hypothetical if what would you want to add?

 

[Laughs] We really created this game as a full experience as packaged software. It’s the same experience for people that don’t have an online connection or extra hardware. It’s a unified experience for people on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 so we’re really not thinking about any downloadable content.

 

My readers want to know if you would consider having Japanese voiceovers as downloadable content.

 

That would be truly a quantity issue. There is so much data it would be impossible to download. Also, the lip synching has been changed, it’s completely optimized for English. Downloading or adding Japanese voiceovers wouldn’t quite work either.

 

Now that the game is out, what do you feel about the fan reaction?

 

I’m especially pleased with the public reaction in North America and Europe. In France, more than three thousand five hundred people lined up to purchase the game and that is something that made me emotional and I’m very happy about.

 

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One of my readers liked the datalog, which described the back story and elements about the world. What inspired you to create this feature?

 

We didn’t want the characters sitting around explaining the back story. We wanted to focus on the human drama. In order to do that, we created the datalog that provides all of the background the characters know, but we don’t.

 

Another one of my readers is fascinated by how the music fits moments and dungeons in the game. Did you create the music first or start with the moments?

 

Each game is different, but for this game the game came first. The music was created to fit the scenes. We would provide rough cutscenes and they would create music around it.

 

After technical analysis by fans and DigitalFoundy some people feel the Xbox 360 version may not be at the same level of quality when it comes to visual fidelity between versions (720p/sub HD vs. 1080p/Bink encoded video). Based on these comments, how do you feel about the Xbox 360 version?

 

There is only really a difference in terms of media encoding. In-game, when you’re controlling your character there is absolutely no difference. Because Blu-ray is able to hold more data than DVDs the compression rate is different. You have to change discs, but it’s only twice. There isn’t anything that affects the storyline or a user’s gameplay experience.

 

Why was the free roaming experience in Gran Pulse added so late into the game?

 

Cocoon is story driven. The concept was to create two different gameplay experiences. Cocoon was story driven and Gran Pulse was an open world. Even though Cocoon may feel long, the time you spend playing in each area is about half and half.

 

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As a director, what was the most important thing you learned when developing Final Fantasy XIII?

 

The most important lesson that I learned was creating the technology for the current generation high definition consoles took a much longer time than previous games to get the project rolling. Before the next generation consoles come out I want to be prepared with the fundamental technology in place to get the game moving.

 

Based on fan reaction, what concepts from Final Fantasy XIII will be kept in say Final Fantasy XV or a future Final Fantasy game.

 

[Laughs.] That’s so far away! The next game in the series is an online one, Final Fantasy XIV. After this we’re still working on the Fabula Nova Crystallis series – Agito XIII, Versus XIII. So, even if we do create the next numbered installment it’s so far away that we haven’t really thought of it.

 

You worked on a bunch of Final Fantasy games. Which one would you want to remake the most?

 

[Laughs.] That would be Final Fantasy VII!

 

If we had the manpower and the time to work on a project, if we were to remake Final Fantasy VII with the quality of Final Fantasy XIII it would become a tremendous project. If we can get the number of people we need by all means that would be the one I would really want to remake.


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  • Vanilla

    Ooh, I see my question. Thanks for getting most of these answered–a lot of the questions and their answers were really interesting. :)

    On a side note, I just started playing FFXIII (augh, finals suck) and I’m really looking forward to the split in atmosphere/gameplay between Cocoon and Pulse Toriyama mentioned. This game is absolutely gorgeous.

  • Hraesvelgr

    Man, seeing that last image reminded me how sick I am of developers using terms such as “open world” and “freedom and choice” this gen.

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

    Lol i saw my question :D, funny, this makes me think so many things, is like a big group, each one depends on other 100%, they just did it and gave it to the sound group. Is great to see the coordination, simply great.

  • i387

    Thanks for asking my question as well, Spencer.
    Now we all can stop hoping for JPN voice DLC heh ^^;

  • http://twitter.com/Xuiz enorka miho

    Remake FFVII you shall Motomu san!!! This will sell more than any other new FF series… or even break gaming records! I assure you!!

    • epy

      Heh, funny how they always manage to mention the FFVII remake in a story somewhere every week.

      So no japanese voices, huh? I’ll wait until the International version then. If the japanese voices are not in there either, we’ll see. I have enough on my gaming plate as it is anyways.

      • Aoshi00

        There wouldn’t be, since the Int’l ver. would have Eng. lip sync videos and Eng. dub w/ Jpn subtitles and menu, it’s for Jpn players to experience American voice acting.

        I wish they would’ve done Lost Odyssey that way before, giving the org. Jpn version Jpn lip sync.. If lip sync is not an issue, then FFXIII could fit more than one audio track just like LO had five.

        I’ve only listened to maybe the first 2 hrs in English, so I don’t know which I prefer in the end, I’m probably leaning more toward Eng. because of the good localization.

        • epy

          Well, I’m sort of hoping the International release is an actual International version like Star Ocean The Last Hope International is. If it’s just another American dub for Japanese “International” version like PS2 FFs and KHs I may as well start thinking about importing.

          • Aoshi00

            yesasia has the Jpn ver. for $79.99 right now, so it’s not so bad (or for cheaper used on ebay) I got mine for $88.80 before. I don’t think they would do a SO4 Int’l since each version are meant to have perfect presentation, w/ voices matching what’s on the screen, just like MGS4, since it’s easier to notice lip movement not matching in detailed HD graphics compared to before, especiall w/ these long movie quality cutscenes. It’s like the Advent Children movie having both Jpn & Eng. audio on the US blu-ray, but FFXIII is one step above w/ custom lip sync, which I really appreciate (remember how awkward the X script had to be trying its best to match the Jpn lip sync)

            I’ve just played another 2 hours and have fallen in love w/ the Eng. voice acting alrdy. Like I said, I like the care put into the localization, it’s very polished, Lake Bresha sounds nice, and Lake Bilge sounded weird.. I really liked Sakamoto Maaya’s Lightning, but I prefer the Eng cast overall, Hope sounds less like a whiner. So I don’t think you’re missing too much other than the two theme songs (I think they took out the Jpn theme song altogether in the Snow/Serah scene, that was a good insert song).

            I’ve been playing too much Heavy Rain though, replaying the same scenarios differently in both Jpn and English, it’s a heck of a good Jpn dub :)

            BTW, just found this on ebay, $49.99 free shipping brand new, pretty good deal I think.

            http://cgi.ebay.com/PS3-Final-Fantasy-XIII-Import-Japan-Brand-New_W0QQitemZ120545019322QQcmdZViewItemQQptZVideo_Games?hash=item1c110b05ba

          • Ereek

            Don’t just not play the game because it has English voices. The English voices are fine. Great, even. Some are much better than their Japanese counterparts.

            I think you’re suffering from “I can’t understand it, therefore it’s better” syndrome.

          • epy

            Er… no. I suffer from the “I have good listening and speaking skills but don’t know a lot of kanji” syndrome. Trying to work on it though.

          • Ereek

            If you can understand spoken Japanese, you’d also realize the English voices are quite good. I don’t understand your aversion to them, especially considering how some are superior.

            For that matter, why not just import the Japanese version if you can understand what’s going on?

          • Tokyo Guy

            Personally I felt many of the Japanese voice actors were absolutely atrocious. Hope and Snow in particular. I’ve been totally impressed with the English language version to the point where the game is actually somewhat enjoyable compared with the overacted, immature nature of the characters in the original version.

          • thebanditking

            I could not agree more. The english cast is very well done and personally some of the VAs are better then their Japanese counter parts. Though I don’t speak or understand Japanese so outside of just the sound of their voice I can’t judge them as actors.

        • Tokyo Guy

          ? Lost Odyssey was only recorded in English though, there were no Japanese voices.

          • Aoshi00

            What do you mean? There are Jpn/English audio(Jpn subtitle/menu) in the Jpn version of Lost Odyssey, and Japanese/English/Italian/ French/German audio/subtitle/menu in the US ver. I have both version. The Jpn dub was okay, but leaves a lot to be desired because only actors were used instead of voice actors other than Horikawa Ryo (Vegeta) as Prince Tolten, plus a rather poor job of matching lip movement, Jansen was very good though in both dub. Still, I was quite used to it because it’s the dub I listened to on my first playthru. The English dub was primary though since lip sync was made to match English.

          • Tokyo Guy

            Oh it looks like it’s been too long since I played the game then. For whatever reason, I was under the impression it only had English voice acting. Perhaps I was just thinking of the lip-syncing issue.

  • lostinblue

    they really sidestepped the whole X360 versus PS3 build question.

    • thebanditking

      IMO there was nothing to sidestep, its not like 360 can not run a PS3 emulator(or vice versa). Thus FFXIII’s highly PS3 tailored code and engine suffered after being ported (though tose DVD’s didn’t help much). We see this all the time with games developed with only one platform in mind. After seeing both the worst part about the 360 build are those cutscenes, sure the game is lower res but nothing pisses me off more then pixelated video.

  • rinshu

    Good interview but I would have liked to have seen some tougher questions. For instance. “How do you feel about this being the lowest rated Main series FF game ever in the West?”. “What do yo think about the many fans and reviewers who think the game is too linear?”.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Spencer

      You should have asked those questions :)

    • thebanditking

      They actually talked about that in the latest episode of Qore on the PSN. Though his responce was similar to what they have all said, that it was doen to keep the game focused and make the story easier to follow, like a movie.

  • http://soundcloud.com/tet-chan TetsuyaHikari

    Hmmm..interesting how he mentions his joy towards the reaction received from France, Europe, and the US, but said nothing about how he felt towards Japan’s reaction to the game, lol.

    • Aoshi00

      That’s true.. many old fans who’ve played FFs up to 10 didn’t like it and thought the game was way linear (a narrow tunnel, two controllable chars, or more accurately one, for a large chunk of the game). Self denial I’d say… I’m sure at the end nobody cares much, anything w/ a number slapped on FF will sell..

      • Kris

        See, It’s weird, I’ve been playing Final Fantasy games for quite a while and I’m quite enjoying it. The games have always been linear, but FFXIII is more direct about it. It feels like a continuation of X to me, with a bit of 5′s battle system on crack.

        • http://soundcloud.com/tet-chan TetsuyaHikari

          It certainly feels like a, “hit-or-miss” sort of title, honestly. I’ve been gaming for 19 years now and I can STILL remember playing my first RPG, Final Fantasy, on a little 13 inch TV which had a little button in the bottom right corner to turn color on or off, lol. I actually enjoyed FF XIII, but the best way I can sum up the game is:

          It’s like a movie you enjoyed enough to sit through to the end, but have no interest in seeing it again.

          I really did enjoy FF XIII all the way through though. The linearity was a little bothersome, but for me, the character development and battle system made up for that. I beat it once, obtained all the trophies, then placed it on my shelf to collect dust, heh.

          It’s hard having your standards met in this day and age though when you come from an older generation of gaming. My favorite is still IV and it probably always WILL be. Some of the older generation just needs to realize that these new games are catering to the new generation and if they want flashy stuff with hours of cutscenes, then that’s what the companies will release.

          It’s sad, but true. If it sells, they will see no reason to change their mentality on the matter. I’m kind of happy, yet sad, that I’ve been privileged enough to watch over a decade’s worth of gaming transform.

          I will say though, the newer generation honestly has no sense of appreciation when it comes to these games. Now, I have met a few young guys that could appreciate a great game when they see one, but most of the ones I’ve spoken with (who probably weren’t even born or were wearing diapers, learning how to walk, while I was playing my NES) are expected to be “spoonfed” these really graphically enhanced titles and if they don’t look nice, they’re obviously “not good”.

          See, as an older gamer, you can appreciate how far we’ve come in gaming and can reminisce about the times when you used to be happy when that new 8-bit game came out. When you got an SNES for Christmas or your birthday, you thought it was the next best thing since sliced bread and were completely blown away by the graphics and hours of replay value! So when you have as much history with gaming as I do (wish I was playing back when the Atari was released, heh) and you own a PS3, you can really appreciate how far we’ve come and be happy with what you got (unless of course, it is just a TERRIBLE game in general :P).

          Anyway! Sorry for the tangent, everyone! Damn. I really am getting old. I’m sitting here just mumbling to myself even after I answered the initial response a few minutes ago :/

          • http://cleesh.org Lajcik

            Actually you described what us older gamers experience very adequately. And I have to say I enjoyed FF13 for much the same reasons. I don’t mind the linearity or the lengthy cutscenes – it’s really well executed here and that’s what matters.

            What I’d like to add to your statement is that ff13 (much like ff10-2) has taken a step in the direction of appealing to a wider audience with its story.

            Motomu Toriyama mentions they wanted to focus on character drama, but it actually feels like a soap opera. It’s not human drama when characters just whine and cry about their situation, and pat each other on the back all the time. This is not a ‘deep and engaging character’. This is the sort of thing that you get in ‘the bold and the beautiful’, without the bit where somebody is later found out to be your long lost mother or whatever. It really feels cheap, shallow and dragged out. For me – this is the biggest flaw of the game. Mr. Toriyama should watch the ending of House season 4 (for example) and learn a few things.

            Don’t get me wrong, I like the concept of the story – the whole crystal/*’cie idea is solid and makes for a good background. I especially like when Vanille has those short narrative parts between the chapters. I just feel all this is spoiled by the dragged out drama.

            I hope this makes sense, took way too long to write.

          • thebanditking

            I wonder how close in age we are? As I find my self doing exactly what you just did there all the time lol. I have been playing games for 21 years (at last count). How about you?

      • thebanditking

        As true as that may be thats not to say this is not a very well made game. The linear design (so far) does not bother me as Im really enjoying the characters and locations. Im certainly liking XIII a lot more then I did X after the same ammount of time put in. Not that Im trying to say its the best game ever but its certainly much better then I anticipated.

  • Aoshi00

    Too bad I threw out my questions too late… most things have been answered alrdy anyway, hooray for no DLC. Is it just me or the force feedback happens very rarely in this game, even during the exciting explosion scenes in the intro and such, at first I thought I had it off in the settings, but there’s no such option. It bothered me at first but later I didn’t give it too much thought..

    I want a FFVII remake, but Kitase should direct it instead of Toriyama (X-2 director..)…

    He said 15 won’t be a while, couldn’t they just have called XIII Versus as 15 instead, or 14 and make the MMO 15, whichever one is coming out sooner.

    • mach

      Seriously. At this rate, we won’t see XV until the next console generation. It’ll totally destroy the precedent of three Final Fantasies per console!

      I bet if they hadn’t announced Versus so long ago (back when they thought XIII would be out by 2007), they would’ve just gone ahead and changed the name to FFXV without anyone knowing. Now it’s too late because everyone’s already expecting Versus.

      • Tokyo Guy

        I would still like to know why Final Fantasy XI or XIV exist considering that they could EASILY have been called “Final Fantasy Online” and “Final Fantasy Online 2″ respectively. Why do they need to exist as numbered installments, ESPECIALLY when this interview mentions how 13 was created as a contained installment-as with all the others. Because by making the games online ONLY to play, that immediately limits the user base, especially with the money issue.

        • http://soundcloud.com/tet-chan TetsuyaHikari

          ^ this made me laugh

          You make it sound as if ANY of the numerical FF titles have anything in common with their sequel or predecessor (outside of X-2). I’ll give you an example. Final Fantasy is released.

          Another installment is planned, so okay. Let’s just call it, “Final Fantasy Again”. Great. The next installment is already planned. It comes out a couple of years later. We decide to call it, “Final Fantasy Rebirth”.

          So forth and so on. A numerical system is much easier to follow and keep track of and Final Fantasy is not the only one guilty of using such a method. Take a look at Wild Arms, Secret of Mana, Shadow Hearts, Persona, etc.

          All of their “sequels” may use a similar atmosphere or battle system from the previous installment, but not everything numbered chronologically has to be tied together. It’s usually just a way for fans to keep up with what the latest installment is. Numbers are much easier for people to remember than subtitles (especially in a franchise like, “Final Fantasy” where they have already had 14 numerical installments (yes, this is counting X-2). Think about how much we’d have to keep up with if they just titled each of them as, “Final Fantasy” followed by a subtitle, lol).

          Anyway, I don’t see the problem with it. This is pretty common among franchises.

          • Tokyo Guy

            Yes I am WELL aware of the Final Fantasy games being totally unrelated, you hardly need to point this out. It seems that you missed my point though: there is nothing compelling, IMHO, that justifies the two online games having a number. Consider, for example, that there are a handful of Crystal Chronicle games, yet they are NOT considered numbered Final Fantasy installments. Rather, they are a totally different game series who use the name Final Fantasy and the idea of a crystal. So based on that, there is no reason why Final Fantasy XI and XIV could not have been named “Final Fantasy Online” and been a separate offshoot.

            I truly have to ask people: does anyone actually PREFER having XI and XIV as “write off” games as they are when they could have had/could be having two “traditional” games in their place? Seriously now.

          • Aoshi00

            I can’t stand Online 1 & 2 being called 11 & 14 as well, so Online 3 will be called what FF16? Even DQ’s spinoffs, like monsters joker and whatnot (can’t keep track) aren’t numbered, otherwise it would be up to DQ 20 now. Same as FF, if Tactics/Crystal Chronicles were all numbered, it would be like FF 30 alrdy, ridiculous.So I treated Lost Odyssey as FFXI and will think of Last Story as XIV, which I assume has crossed the Gooch’s mind at some point, it’s a jab at square. So S-E give online games a number, while a perfectly fine game as Versus 13, which could’ve easily been 14 or whatever, I thought it’s really dumb, and the PSP game Agito, why does it have a XIII in it? But yeah like thebanditking said, it’s to trick people into getting into trying a MMO. I bought the whole HDD/adapter PS2 bundle to play for two months and told myself the game was not for me. I did it because at the time I never missed a flagship title for the series, and now we know what S-E is up to, they don’t have the guts to treat the Online games as a separate series and use the deceitful name.. sigh…

    • thebanditking

      Personally I see calling Final Fantasy Online, FF11 and FF15 to be a bit of a marketing ploy. The numbered series hold such high reguard with gamers that they felt they could intice **read trick** people into trying it because it was a being labeled as “the next numberd Final Fantasy”.

      • Tokyo Guy

        Exactly. And yet Crystal Chronicles didn’t have a number, Square decided to make it an offshoot. So why the hell couldn’t they have done the same thing for the online ones?

  • Ereek

    Thank you for asking my questions, Spencer.

    Toriyama seemed rather willing to give information in this interview, didn’t he? He was a lot more open than in previous interviews. Here’s to hoping that he takes the lessons her learned with XIII and won’t make the same mistakes in the development process again.

  • http://anosou.com/ Anosou

    Nice interview, thanks for picking up my Q. Glad to hear he’s also hot on FFVII.

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