Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Takes Us Behind The Scenes At Square Enix

By Ishaan . August 30, 2013 . 9:00am



Square Enix have released the first part in a series of developer diary videos for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, that provides a look at the development of the game and Square’s 1st Production Development department that is in charge of the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts franchises.


The developer diary is narrated by Lightning voice actress Ali Hillis and will also feature commentary from Square Enix’s Visual Works teams. You can watch part 1 of the diary series above.


Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will be released on February 11th, 2014 in North America and February 14th, 2014 in Europe. Yesterday, Square Enix revealed a new feature that allows you to freeze time during the game’s missions.

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  • Milla

    I like lightning, in FF13 she is just a normal woman just fate had different plans for her in 13-2 and LR ^^;

  • Daniel Banks

    I kind of prefer Lightning’s original characterization in XIII. There wasn’t a lot of focus on her, but she got character development from being angry at everything to working alongside the others and you could tell she was the leader of the group more or less.

    I’m not really too crazy about her going solo lately, but I’ll give SE a chance.

  • negineBIT

    “Personally, I’ve been interested in seeing their relationship grow (Lightning and Hope). I guess… we’ll see..”


    • Sardorim

      Well, they’re super old now so age means nothing! Though it would be weird if Hope ends up as Young Hope version in the end instead of his adult version.

      • MrTakeba

        Isn’t it weird how the fangirls (and boys) went gaga over mature Hope in XIII-2, yet SE has gone back to younger shorts-and-life jacket Hope for LR?

    • DrakeClawfang

      Would actually be something cool to explore. Maybe Hope is like “I love you Light, I’ve been waiting centuries to be with you again!”

      “Uh, you’re like, 14.”

      “I only look 14, I’m fully mature normally!”

      “Still creepy for me.”

      • Arcana Wiz

        poor hope, when he was an adult he had chances, but now ;_;

  • epndkempot

    I just wait for Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Trilogy (XIII, XIII-2 & LR)

  • DrakeClawfang

    Man, I thought only Toriyama was delusional on the quality of the games and Lightning, but he’s managed to get to Kitase too.

    • SiliconNooB

      Listening to them, it’s kind of sad that they still think they’re producing Squaresoft era calibre FF games…

      And since when did Lightning become popular?

      Saying something a bunch of times doesn’t make it true.

      • Sardorim

        Eh, I like her and Japan really likes her.

        Sorta like Tifa, her popularity just happened.

      • outlawauron

        Lightning is super popular and FF13 sold very well. While you have people hate on it on the internet, you can’t start thinking that what you read is representative of mass opinion.

      • James

        I like Lightning as a character…

        • SiliconNooB

          She was my favourite character in FFXIII, but only because she was boring enough to not be annoying like the other ones.

      • komiko12

        “Saying something a bunch of times doesn’t make it true.”

        Dunno. I think there are times when that sort of thing happens. Some kind of psychology thing.

      • RichyGaming

        Lightning being hated on still counts for being popular, and she’s personally more of a badass than most Final Fantasy characters. And FF13 isn’t even my favorite game.

      • When did they say they were producing Squaresoft era caliber FF games… or even give off that impression?

        Just because a large amount of the Western fans believe FFXIII was no good, doesn’t mean Square has to suddenly talk down on their own game. They LIKE what they’ve made and hope it pleases those who like the XIII series, so why can’t they happily promote / discuss the game they made?

    • LightningFarron19

      Actually, it’s not a delusion, it’s a fact. Well, at least with Japan it is a fact:

      You really need to do research on this stuff BEFORE actually saying it.

      • DrakeClawfang

        That’s Japan, let’s go talk to North America, Europe and Australia too. And that ignores the idea that a fanbase does not automatically validate something as good, and if you think it does I direct you to the Twilight series.

        I like Final Fantasy XIII, and I like Lightning. But they are not as awesome as Toriyama (and apparently Kitase) think they are. FF13 was not a masterpiece by any measure, and Lightning’s character archetype of the graceful and stoic warrior-lady with a hidden heart of gold has been done many times before, and done better. I direct them to characters like Celes and Beatrix, and to a lesser degree Aqua, just from Square-Enix franchises alone.

        Frankly Lightning has been so overexposed in such a short time that even though I like her I’m starting to tire of her, and several friends of mine feel the same.

        • komiko12

          You must be crazy to expect originality when it comes to character personalities. Can you give a character type that has not been done many times before (without being extreme personalities, that is) ??

          • DrakeClawfang

            Originality or lack thereof does not automatically make a character good or bad. But if you are going to recycle such well-known character archetypes, you should do them well. With Lightning, they really don’t. FF13’s character arcs were rushed and half-assed as a whole, characters angst and get over it within days if not hours of the instigating event, and Lightning is the same.

          • SiliconNooB

            Lightning really is nothing more or less than her trope.

          • RichyGaming


          • DrakeClawfang

            And as a positive follow-up, I am cautiously hopeful that this game gives Lightning proper character depth. How does she feel with all these gods making her their emissaries or whatever, with her former friends turning on her, with the kid she used to mentor now mentoring her in a way? These are interesting insights to her I’d like to see properly explored.

          • RichyGaming

            I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Lightning. She’s already developed enough by the end of the first Final Fantasy 13 game.

          • komiko12

            Heh. I think it would be better not to expect anything story-wise from the game or rather keep the expectations low. While the gameplay is looking great, I have yet to see anything that indicates that it would have a good plot.

            P.S. and by plot I meant plot not PLOT! Haha

        • LightningFarron19

          You do realize that Square is a mainstream video game company, so the audience they will pander to the most is the Japanese fandom, right?

          That’s like saying “Oh Mass Effect is only good in America but since it’s not good over in Japan and China then it’s automatically shit”

          Big named companies are going to “pander” to the fandoms that are internal. Big named companies like Bethesda or Bioware are going to be thinking about the West while Square thinks about the East.

          If you want a company that panders to what is considered “The Hot Spot of gaming”, you might as well start searching for more niche companies like Monolith Soft.

          • DrakeClawfang

            Pandering to one portion of the fanbase justifies nothing. I get you can’t please everyone, especially in a game series like Final Fantasy where even in one region of the world the fanbase is heavily divided. But you should at least attempt to make a quality product that a majority of fans internationally can enjoy.

            You can’t just make a mediocre product, point to a part of the fanbase that liked it even if the rest did not and say “well they liked it so it must be good”, then continue to cater to their reactions and demands heedless of what the rest of the fans think. And if Square-Enix is going to do that, then they are setting themselves up to alienate their non-Japanese fans.

          • LightningFarron19

            Dude, do you even understand how business works?

            When a company is small, they don’t have such pressures such as long standing fanbases and bigger managment. Like say Monolith Soft, the small company does not have to worry about millions and millions of fans breathing down their neck. The developers are free to do more and experiment more with their franchise or games.

            When a business company in general gets bigger, they tend to lean more towards the internal buyers rather than buyers outside the main group. This is due to the fact that the company itself can’t take as many risks and experimentation like they could back in it’s smaller days.

            This isn’t about fandoms or nostalgia, it’s about facts and constraints. With smaller companies, they have more room to do what they want to do but are restrained by their budget. While bigger companies are more restrained about what they can do but have more room to do what they can with a bigger budget.

            It’s kind of like a riddle when you think about it.

          • DrakeClawfang

            Economics has nothing to do with making quality games that everyone can enjoy. Unless you focus on cutting edge graphics for home consoles, which companies should not. Graphics are important, but they should never be the focus of a video game. Cool graphics will grow outdated, fun gameplay will not.

            Final Fantasy especially is constantly reinventing its gameplay, stories and characters, and different sides of the fanbase react differently to such changes. So for Square-Enix to suddenly start catering to one side of the fanbase and ignoring the other is pretty much the opposite of what makes the series so good, that the many games *are* so varied in their styles, so different types of fans can enjoy them in different ways.

            If they are only going to give the Japanese fans what they want and don’t care about the rest of the fans, again, they are going to alienate them and Final Fantasy is going to become a widget franchise with only a fraction of the fanbase it had outside of Japan before. If you aren’t going to at least try to please all your fans, then don’t try to market to all of them when they know you’re not making the types of games they’re interested in. THAT is how business works – if you’re going to market a product to an international audience, it should appeal to an international audience.

          • LightningFarron19

            It’s FAR more easier to say “Please the international audience” than it is doing it. Do you even realize how big the fandom is? You can say what you can say because you are a fan looking inward and judging them on that basis. However, you don’t try to walk into the developers shoes and understand their successes and struggles.

            Japan and America have been been going in different directions with RPGs in general. If a Japanese company wishes to be “successful” in America, they have to completely forget the internal fans in Japan and come out with a product that panders to America.

            Going back to Monolith Soft, the company made Xenoblade Chronicles. Back in the day, they developed Xenoblade with the basis of FF12’s design in mind. FF12 was considered the lowest selling and most forgettable Final Fantasy game by the Japanese audience despite it having an average of 92% with professional critics. Monolith Soft devoted their time into focus on a game developed in the mindset of American audiences and the result shows it. In Japan, it only sold 166,000 copies but in American it sold over 410,000 copies and 250,000 copies in Europe. The game oversold so much that is goes for 199.95 on Amazon JUST for a used copy! That never happened in Japan.

            Even though Xenoblade was EXTREMELY successful in the west, it had a hell of a time getting over here in the first place due to Japanese fans overlooking the game’s design and the mainstream audience not having much interest in it except for the cult following the game got over there.

        • Monterossa

          Toriyama knows how to please the Japanese and Asian fans, and that’s enough for me. I don’t want Final Fantasy to try to please those people who like The Hulk, Kratos, and all the skinhead protagonists. I’m happy with the traditional Japanese style in jRPGs, people who don’t like it can play their western games.

          See the other jRPG series, like Tales series. They have swimsuit, maid, school uniform DLC outfits for the female characters. The fans praise Tales to the moon but when FF start doing it, the fans bash it to the abyss. Western jRPG fans are so annoying and SE needs to stop listening to them too much.

          • DrakeClawfang

            That comparison is ridiculously stupid and short-sighted. What works in one franchise will not work in another, if so then why not give Lightning a Keyblade as a pre-order bonus weapon. And it’s ignorant to group all fans who dislike the direction Final Fantasy is going as God of War “skinhead” fans.

            My problem with what Toriyama is doing is his focus on style over substance, making his games look cool and badass when the focus should be on making the characters interesting and the gameplay fun. I don’t care about Lightning playing dress-up in increasingly embarrassing costumes, I want to know how her character has changed since we last saw her and where the game will take her now that it’s the grand finale of her trilogy.

            And if you wanna talk satisfying Japanese fans, XIII-2 sold barely half a million copies in its first week, while XIII sold over a million on the first *day*. A sign to me that the Japanese fans were about as enthusiastic about the sequel as the Western ones.

      • xavier axol

        I don’t know how this poll was ranked, was it liking a FF female character overall? or just based on looks? cause I like her, but her personality and her conviction fail to resonated as a memorable ff female character. she clearly wasn’t the lead character on both FFXIII and FFXIII-2 until now. somehow I wanted her to break out of her personality and take control over the many situation that were presented on both games, yet I felt like she was a bystander.

        • LightningFarron19

          Well from what the order is from the top 3
          1. Lightning (FFXIII)
          2. Aerith (FFVII)
          3. Yuna (FFX)
          4. Tifa (FFVII)
          5. Celes (FFVI)
          6. Tina (FFVI)

          I would say the character overall and the looks being in the minority because the top 6 look REALLY plausible list.

          • Arcana Wiz

            Yeah Terra won the sixth place, great for a snes era rpg where the females dont have the high budget “beauty” or voices.

  • MrTakeba

    This might not be worth alot to hardcore gamers and those of you who grew up with the classic FFs, but the fact is that Lightning is an icon amongst the cosplay, anime, casual, deviantart and tumblr communities. I’m not going to debate the gameplay merits of the FFXIII saga because that’s not the purpose of this comment or the focus of the article and developer diary. To an entire generation of people, Lightning is now synonymous with the Final Fantasy brand and is an icon much the same way Cloud was 15 years ago. Like it or not, until the Noctis marketing machine revs up, Lightning IS Final Fantasy. Now, maybe her fans choose to spend their time cosplaying as her, making art featuring her, and buying her figures more than actually buying and playing the games that feature her, but if we’re talking about popularity in a general pop culture sense, Lightning has it in spades.

  • AerikTakeshi

    “The continual sense of reinvention is something that’s unique to the Final Fantasy series..”. I think this is a key phrase that really expresses what Square is constantly trying to do with the Final Fantasy franchise. A lot of people (online at least, especially in the western market) seem to feel as though the series is betraying the fans by trying out new themes, characterizations, and methods of delivering the story.

    They should remember that one of the things they originally loved about the series was that it tried something that no other jRPG’s in the market had tried before. There’s always going to be things that you love and that you hate about ANY given series.

    If you don’t like something, you let it go and move on from it, you shouldn’t feel this vehement need to express your hatred and mockery of something a lot of people (myself included) get joy from…. Anyhow, i can’t WAITTTTTT for Lightning Returns, everything about it seems so distinct and creative and gorgeous, and I can’t wait to see the conclusion!!!! YEAAAHHHHHHH!!! ^.^

  • DriftSlave

    Siliconera never fails to bait in the FFXIII haters…’s so damn sad…..

    • komiko12

      I don’t think the site itself is to blame. It just so happens that this site has many visitors so things like this are inevitable.

  • Freya2012

    I hoped there isn’t an option to save the returning casts. I don’t want them to die :(

  • ndjn3979

    I love her voice.

  • Jake_Indiman

    Well, I don’t care about the haters. I am buying this. I need closure to this story. Plus, Saber’s Edge and Blinded by Light never get old with me.

  • Hyped for this. Haters gon hate =^_^=

  • ShadowDivz

    Ali Hillis should do voice work for one of those erotic audio books.
    Seriously, listening to that voice saying lewd things would be awesome.


    • I gotta admit, her voice does sound like it’s specially made for pornographic audio books.

  • Vash bane

    hm the gameplay really does look good to me and im glad I don’t have to play the second game just to get whats going on(youtube the answer XD).

    hm the hopexlighting thing… I really never got it to me it just looked like a little brother/big sister thing.

  • Niermyico

    Can’t age or have children?

    Sound like the manga/anime, Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi (Sunday Without God).

    Anyway. I’m on this hype train! Hype~hype!

  • eilegz

    HYPED, hopefully at tokyo game show we see vanille

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