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.
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.
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.
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.