How Bravely Default’s Producer Hopes To Make It Square’s Next “Epic” RPG

By Laura . September 25, 2012 . 12:32pm

Square Enix producer Tomoya Asano, has been in charge of games such as Final Fantasy III DS, Final Fantasy IV DS, as well as The Four Heroes of Light.  Naotaka Hayashi is a scenario writer from MAGES, who’s worked on games such as Steins;Gate, Chaos;Head, and Remember11. Both are jointly developing Square’s next major portable RPG, Bravely Default: Flying Fairy.


In a recent chat with Nintendo president, Satoru Iwata, Asano and Hayashi reveal that the collaboration between the two wasn’t originally planned, but when Asano was looking for a writer to work on his new project, one of his colleagues recommended Steins;Gate to him.  Asano particularly enjoyed playing the well-known visual novel, and so, he approached Hayashi with the offer.


Asano had a grand vision—Bravely Default was to be “the new epic RPG from Square Enix,” especially with a renowned writer like Hayashi in charge of writing its story, Revo from Sound Horizon on music, and Akihiko Yoshida of Final Fantasy XII and Tactics Ogre fame on art.


It was to be a step up from the usual RPG, utilizing the Nintendo 3DS to the utmost, to the point that Asano even proclaimed that, while the three pillars of an RPG are the battles, the plot, and growth (in gameplay and in story), Bravely Default was to have a fourth pillar—its wireless capabilities.


Community is extremely important in Bravely Default. To Asano, what could possibly be more epic than playing a grand story with a whole group of people, all working toward the same goal?


In line with this thinking, the game uses the 3DS’ StreetPass feature to allow you to summon friends in battle, and you can also take advantage of a feature called the Abilink, which allows you to borrow job abilities from your friends.


For example, if Person A raises a Knight, and Person B raises a Magician, then they can trade abilities such that A could have a more powerful Magician and B would have a more powerful Knight. These upgraded characters (person A’s Magician and person B’s Knight) will start out at a low level when you use them, but they will have the new skills, allowing you to use them in battle quicker and easier.


Not everyone lives in a community where there are many others who play the same game as them, though, so the StreetPass would be severely limited in this case. Players in such a situation can use the 3DS’ Wi-Fi capabilities to do the same things from there as well.


What makes a game “epic” is different in everyone’s eyes, though. Hayashi, as a writer, placed special emphasis on not only creating relatable characters, but also on creating a relatable world. The world would have to be firmly set, with its own history, and it would resonate with our own despite being completely different from it. The characters, NPC and main characters alike, would be as lively and as fun as possible. To achieve this goal, Hayashi says he paid special attention to the phrasing and wording of each of the characters’ lines.


Hayashi’s usual fare is visual novels, though, so he also had to make the step to writing for an RPG. He mentions to Iwata that he paid particular attention to the balance between story and freedom. Usually, he’d just write the entire story, but in an RPG, he had to give the player leeway and allow the players to discover and explore on their own.


What Asano and Hayashi both agreed on was that Bravely Default was to be a completely new, but “nostalgic” RPG. They both drew inspiration from the older role-playing games they’d played as children, such as the early Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest games.  They recalled that the game systems back then were uncomplicated. The battles were simple. You didn’t have to sit through lines and lines of tutorial or manuals to be able to play the game.


As such, Bravely Default would have a turn-based battle system. In addition, the Brave and Default system unique to the game would have to be easy to use. Instead of the usual turn-based pattern of you-me-you-me, Brave and Default would allow you to input a bunch of commands at once to be used all in one turn. The Brave command would be for offense, and the Default would be defense.


Of course, easy doesn’t mean that the battle system lacks strategy.  Asano specifically states that players won’t get far before they realize that strategy is extremely important. However, the Brave and Default system was also designed so that players could easily use the system to suit their playing style, whether it be on the aggressive or defensive side.


Going back to turn-based after all this time was tricky, but one of the tricks Asano used was to use the game’s demo as a sort of beta test.  After the game’s demo was released, he received suggestions and comments from users on how to improve the game, which he took into account while making improvements.  Examples of improvements include speeding up the battle movement, speeding up the walking through towns, the ability to skip through the text, and removing as many camera angle changes as possible.


(In addition, players can use StreetPass data and the Friend-record data from the demo and transfer them to the main game.)


The changes suggested by the players were more than they could’ve thought of, says Hayashi, especially those who have long been playing the RPG genre.  Both agree that this not only bettered the game, but also increased the players’ faith in it. While they felt it would be frightening when the game was finally released because of raised expectations, they felt that all the opinions along the way would make for an even better game—one step closer to their goal of creating a truly “epic” RPG.

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  • leadintea

    I absolutely love the fact that this me is heavily character driven. I absolutely love stories about how characters interact with each other than a story that just concentrates on the world or a main goal/problem.

  • Anyone else really dislike this art style? I just can’t play games that look like this. I tried with FF3 but I don’t think I was able to put up with it for long.

    • Godmars

       You mean the actual art style or how its delivered in the game, which may as well be the new FF3 render

      • Anime10121

         He means how the games look graphically, the actual art style is glorious, but I dont care much for the FF3/FF4DS graphical style either, HOWEVER none of that actually matters to me because this game looks GLORIOUS, even with those horrid 3D models!  BD:FF makes even those 3D models look good.

        Bravely Default is too sexy for its shirt!

    • Paradox me

      Nope, it looks drop dead gorgeous to me. 

      I don’t usually care for chibi character designs, but Final Fantasy III/IV DS, 4 Heroes of Light and this remind me just a little bit of Final Fantasy IX’s stylized characters models. Proportions are still different and there’s not as much detail, but they have the same charm as IX’s.

      It also helps that the actual art direction is amazing, and lends itself well to the in-game style, IMO.

    • jeam95

      well i wasnt the biggest fan of these type of artwork eather but i grew to like em

    • jeam95

      well.. i not the biggest fan of these art style eather but i actually grew to like it  lets just hope the game gets localized and see if its good..

    • No way, It looks amazing! I have to say their FMV designs don’t look great but the stuff we’ve seen illustrations for and the in game stuff looks amazing. I’d prefer it to any of the main FF series 3D games.

    • I actually kinda agree. I like Akihiko Yoshida’s art in general and this sort of chibi bobble-head style worked well for the breezy FF3 and 4WoL, but in a more story-heavy game like this one I’d like an art style that I can take just a little bit more seriously.

      The actual art of the game’s world and backgrounds is to die for, though.

  • fancycakes

    If Square Enix is hoping for this to be their next major RPG, I don’t think a localization announcement is too far off at all.

  • Hopefully more developers will consider that not all owners will have many people around them to be able to use the StreetPass features of games and incorporate them into SpotPass.

    This was a great read. I love Steins;Gate and will look forward to the story.

    •  This is Nihon… everyone carries there crap everywhere…

      • Even so, not everyone will have the game that someone else needs to perform the StreetPass with. The only guarantee with StreetPass is meeting other Miis.

        • FX102A

          I don’t think you need to have the actual game, I’ve gotten Mario Kart, 3D Land & Resident Evil street pass stuff in a single day and I had a completely different game in. Guess they install a small bit of data onto the 3DS or SD Card when you first slot in the game. But I agree with what you’re saying, you still have to pass someone who has played it.

          •  Also note that, because it’s just checking this data on your actual system, you can exchange data with someone else who has been using the same cart as you.  So, if you have a friend with a 3DS who isn’t interested in buying the game, you could use your cart on their system and exchange that data.  I’m not sure if you’d need a new save file for this, though.

          • I totally forgot that they install StreetPass data to the SD Card. That was what I meant to include in my original post.  

        • keithmaxx

          Tell me about it. I play localized Rhythm Thief but I live in Japan, and I gotta tell you that I have never gotten any other players into my “parallel world Paris”. I hope they have better cross-region StreetPass integration with this game.

  • All I’m waiting for at this point is news that this game will be localized.

    • Shane Guidaboni

      Same. I’m getting tired of seeing all this awesome news about the game with none of them being about coming to N.America. 

      • Anime10121

         I’ve been saying the same, but give it time, with them incorporating Spot Pass, it guarantees that they want this game to be released in the west. Square’s probably waiting on sale’s numbers first (if this game does not do well, I will lose faith in Japanese gamers) before announcing its inevitable localization!

      • Yeah, I think it’s more a question of when than if, but still it would be nice to have some indication.

  • SirRichard

    Using demos as a form of beta testing and actually listening to what people said and changing things accordingly basically proves that they really, sincerely care about this game and want to make it the best it can be.

    If only more devs could take that sort of approach to games, eh?

    • Devs like… Square Enix?

      • Herok♞

        You comment makes no sense SE is the company making this game, he wants other devs to take note of it.

    • It always amazes me how ahead of the curve Square Enix’s entire portable games division is, while that main Final Fantasy team seems to stumble at every corner. 

      I mean, the portable guys have been doing DLC, online connectivity, user-generated content, and experimenting with a dozen different genres for the last six years now.

      It’s kind of crazy. T3B is one of the best portable shooters out there. Dissidia is some of the most fun I’ve had with a fighting game in ages. Theatrhythm is a solid rhythm game. FFIV on DS is incredibly cinematic and touching for a game that’s basically using PS1-era hardware.

      HD console budgets coupled with a bad writer in charge of the main FF series really screwed Square’s main Final Fantasy team over this gen. :(

      • imaguni

         Seconding the T3B comment. I’ve had my gripes about the storyline, but I’ve replayed the game more than once because it’s that well done otherwise.

        • Yeah, it’s up there with Resident Evil Revelations and Mercs 3D for some of the most fun I’ve had in a portable shooter. Very smartly developed around the use of a single analog stick. I wish KojiPro had had the sense to do that with Peace Walker, but I feel like they were a little too ambitious for their own good.

      • SirRichard

        Yeah, for all the problems their main franchise teams are having and how debatable their console output this generation has been, their handheld work has seriously been one long line of knock-outs and top-notch stuff for the most part, to the point where you have to wonder why their big teams aren’t paying attention.

        I mean, yes, there’s all manner of factors involved, from the people in charge to their rough start into the current generation and their reputation for top-tier visuals haunting them when game budgets are at an all-time high, but there’s also just plain issues with how they’ve handled Final Fantasy lately.

        Still, at least there’s hope for them yet. They still have dreamers and people willing to push what they can do, this article’s clear proof of that.

      • Göran Isacson

        What is T3B? Can’t say I recognize that title.

        • The 3rd Birthday (Parasite Eve).

  • Anime10121

    Oh and one more thing, they’ve done something in this game that basically confirms that it will be localized, incorporating not only Street Pass, but the WiFi enabled Spot Pass to do the sharing stuff in this game.  This right here proves without a shadow of a doubt that they want this game to come to the west, they are probably just waiting to see how well it does in Japan before announcing its localization :D

    I mother truckin’ LOVE you Square!  People may crap on you for your console releases this gen (I dont, while FFXIII was so-so, XIII-2 and Nier, were top tier), your portable stuffs have been consistently fantastic!

    • keithmaxx

      I might have missed something, but exactly where did they mention Spot Pass integration? Also, a link to localization hints would be nice.

      That said, I guess there’s hope yet for Square with this little team and its director.

      • Anime10121

        Second paragraph under this picture

        and it quotes

        “Not everyone lives in a community where there are many others who play the same game as them, though, so the StreetPass would be severely limited in this case. Players in such a situation can use the 3DS’ Wi-Fi capabilities to do the same things from there as well.”

        Spotpass is what Nintendo calls its Wi Fi network capabilities.  That is a hint for localization.  Most Japanese games dont utilize Wi Fi for the simple reason that Street Pass works so much better and adhoc actually is usable for the most part in Japan, while in the west, being so scattered, its hard to find someone with similar game interests as you, plus people find it weird for “adults” to be playing handhelds in public.

  • I love how much effort and quality is being put into this.  It goes the extra mile to show that developers are showing how much they will put into their creation.  You rarely see that anymore.

  • Yup, all the pieces are lining up together to form an unique RPG experience! The only thing missing is a worlwide release. But I can wait, I can wait as long as it takes. This is one of these games that’s just worth all the time in the world, because I’m pretty sure it’s going to be one of the best the 3DS has to offer!

  • LexKitteh

    I think this game looks amazing, and can’t wait to play it, but hope they don’t overdo it with sequels too soon. Im still hoping they can fit a FFV or FFIV remake in somewhere to continue where the DS remakes left off!!

  • trust me, with the competition as it is right now, it’ll be easy to accomplish that goal.

    that being said, I truely love and appreciate the legitimate effort that’s being poured into this game .

  • Göran Isacson

    Listens to fan-feedback, wellknown writer outside the usual Square-Enix talent pool, and a trailer that made me drool with it’s very interesting cityscapes… I gotta admit, I am muchly hyped about this game. If they wish to create a new and powerful franchise, then they have my wallet.

    … Here is where the rest of you chime in with “and my credit card/purse etc…

    • Tom_Phoenix

      And my axe!……Errr, golden axe!

      • Godmars

         Um, are you sure you’re not talking about mugging someone? In reference to Isacson’s mention of a purse/credit card. I mean an axe, more so a golden one, doesn’t usually come into play with those items unless someone is left bloody or/and in pieces in the street or a castle.

        Mind you such is more a pillage than a mugging.  

        • Tom_Phoenix

          Well, an axe made of solid gold has to be worth something, right? I figured I could trade that for a copy of the game. =P

          Of course, you do bring up the fair point that I could just use it to steal someone else’s money and buy the game that way. XD

          • Godmars

             Or if you want to pillage rather than mug you could cut out the middle man and charge into the store. Take what you want and burn the place down once done.

            Not sure how much actual good a golden axe will do you. How long it will last being a soft metal and all.

            All that’s ignoring the fact that gold sells around 2k now, so even a one pound camping axe made of the stuff could probably buy a good portion of a game store.

  • LightZero

    The more I read about the more interested I become. I can tell that these two are ambitious and passionate about making this game. It should make for a good game and hopefully it will be localize one day. 

  • EverEndingStory

    If this comes to the US, it will be my reason for buying a 3DS.

  • Go2hell66

    How Bravely Default’s Producer Hopes To Make It Square’s Next “Epic” RPG

    well they can start by announcing an english release i’m sure that would help :D

  • I swear; every time I keep reading news about this game, it just seems to be more and more fantastic!

  • KHSoraKeyBlade

    If it gets an English release I’ll be all over it.

    Four Heroes of Light is still one of my favourite DS games and even a favourite FF of mine.

    But like others have said, everytime we hear news it gets better and better. :D

  • LOL srry bout that,

    Anyway I think this game will have a swift localization.

  • You know what will make Bravely Default epic? A simultanous release date across the globe.

  • Tom_Phoenix

    “What makes a game “epic” is different in everyone’s eyes, though. Hayashi, as a writer, placed special emphasis on not only creating relatable characters, but also on creating a relatable world. The world would have to be firmly set, with its own history, and it would resonate with our own despite being completely different from it. ”

    I’m relieved that Asano is actually aware of this. In a lot of games (and RPGs in particular), the real star of the game is not any of the characters, but the game world itself. Since players spend so much time exploring it and learning about it, a compelling world is the mark of any quality RPG.

    Since we know so little about Bravely Default’s world, I was seriously concerned that this aspect wouldn’t get a high amount of attention. This statement does help ease my fears somewhat, although I still wish they would share more details about it.

    Come on, Square Enix; tell us about the world! Show us a map! Spark our imagination!

  • puchinri

    Goodness, that sounds so lovely and amazing. Honestly, for so long now, Bravely Default was looking like Squeenix’s next epic RPG to me, and it did feel highly nostalgic while still being refreshing.

    Also, I was reminded of Opoona when he mentioned the world, because one of the things that really attracts me to it is the large world and its depth (art history, so many different locations with a story behind them, etc). It gets me excited about BD:FF so much.

    I really believe this will be an amazing game, and I’m really looking forward to it. I think Squeenix is having some good ideas lately and they’re looking to be well fleshed out, and I hope we see more of that~.

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