Square Enix is currently recruiting planners and other members to help develop Final Fantasy VII Remake, and according to Art Director & VFX Director Shintaro Takai, it only has a few original staff. Here’s a part from his interview with CGWorld, where he shared a bit on the current team as well as the original staff behind the classic RPG.
CGWorld: About how many people are there working on Final Fantasy VII Remake that previously participated in the development of Final Fantasy VII, such as yourself, Takai-san?
Shintaro Takai, Art Director & VFX Director: There are only a very few. Starting with producer Yoshinori Kitase-san, director Tetsuya Nomura-san, and scenario writer Kazushige Nojima-san, there’s only very few of us. Most of Final Fantasy VII Remake’s developers are those with experience on the Final Fantasy series after Final Fantasy VII along with new people who joined. We have a lot of people apply saying “I played Final Fantasy VII when I was a child and I really liked it so I want to be a part of it.” It seems like Final Fantasy VII is a bit of a special title even among game developers.
About how many people worked on effects production for Final Fantasy VII?
Takai: About 5 to 6 designers. Add about 5 to 6 programmers to that, and it was a pretty high-scale team for it. The others and I were new to making games with 3DCG, so we went through a considerable amount of trial-and-error while working on it. After all, it was full of people who came from a world of 2D pixel-art, and there were many cases of people using Photoshop for the very first time, let alone 3DCG tools.
The addition of a Z-axis (depth) definitely left an impact to a world that only had the X-axis and Y-axis. The amount of information for a game suddenly increased and it left a big impression to many players.
Takai: The impact was huge as a developer. We all struggled together saying “What’s a Z-axis?” [laughs]. I, too, struggled making a texture on Photoshop, and it was actually Hironobu Sakaguchi who passed by and said “You can do it like this,” and showed me how to use filters. He said “I often use this for processing photographs of my kids” as he walked away. Sakaguchi-san might not remember that, but it was a deeply impressive moment for me.
Now that sounds like an impactful and unexpected experience in its own right [laughs].
Takai: Even when I look back now, I still feel that Final Fantasy VII’s development had some amazing people. At the time I was pretty much a private rank of the effects team so I didn’t get to see its development as a whole, but the feeling of “I’ll make something amazing with the parts that have been entrusted to me” was certainly there. I was in charge of most of the Summoned Beast effects, but even when I look back confidently thinking “I made some great effects,” when I look at it together with the other parts it shows just how much great work all the teams put into it. “This title is going to be huge” was something I felt even back then.
Final Fantasy VII’s Summoned Beast scenes were very elaborate for those days. Especially Knights of the Round with its high attack power, its splendidly long scene was really amazing [laughs].
Takai: That one was long, in hindsight [laughs]. I think every team from modeling, animation, and effects put in some incredible work, to the point that it may have been a little too much.
*Knights of the Round is Final Fantasy VII’s most powerful summon that brings out 13 knights who perform individual moves, taking up close to a minute and 40 seconds for the whole scene.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is in development for PlayStation 4.