DualShockers recently got the opportunity to sit down with Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata for an interview, during which they discussed the game’s 2-month delay, what kind of improvements we can expect to see in the finished product, as well as how and when the game becomes more linear towards the end. [Thanks, DualShockers.]
DualShockers: Could you talk in more detail about the improvements the team is doing to the master version that was recently showcased?
Hajime Tabata: You won’t really see a huge difference from Gamescom today, because it is only two weeks since then, so the build that we have here has been improved slightly, but the biggest difference is that you have a bit more freedom in steering while driving. That is one of the biggest changes you’ll see in the build that you’ll play today.
That was one of the things that we intended to add with the day one patch, and has already been implemented.
DS: What about the improvement that we’ll see when the game will be released?
HT: Originally what was intended for the patch was all these elements that would improve the usability of the game. That also includes fixing bugs or optimizing the actual game. And also the freedom to steer your car. On that point, allowing our players to freely steer their car impeded on some of the progress in the game, so wanted to make sure that the game itself was perfected prior to actually implementing that aspect, and to solve any issue that might come out from that.
There are other factors similar to that that were also considered for the day one patch.
Aside from the whole optimization element, the other big factor was the game balance. For example, in the leveling system. We are ensuring that people will be able to better navigate the information and play at ease. These improvements were also originally intended for the day one patch.
DS: You mentioned that the first part of the game is open world, while the second part tightens on a more story-driven narrative, built around a train ride. During that second part, can we still go back and explore the open world, or we’re bound to the linear path until the end? I remember that we’ll get the flying Regalia only towards the end of the game, so there has to be some room for roaming, isn’t it?
HT: To go back on the more linear part of the game… It actually transfers into that linear part of gameplay when the story ramps up and gets into its final stages. Rather than the latter half of the game, it’s very close to the end of the game, so to speak.
After the train segment, the whole structure of the game completely changes. You cannot go back and forth on the world map between the two parts. That said, there is gonna be a menu function that allows you to access the earlier areas that you roamed around in the earlier parts of the game.
Once you’re done with the train segment, it’s not yet the end of the game. There is still another set of events that awaits you. I can’t tell you what it’s going to be, but it drastically changes up [the game].
DS: We’re just three months from the goal. It’s been a long journey, but the pieces are finally falling in place. Yet some of the responses online to the delay have been a bit extreme. How are you feeling?
HT: In regards to some of the responses online, it’s always unclear how much those reflect the actual situation. I’m not too concerned about those comments floating around. That said, towards the people that have been waiting for a long time, and need to wait another two months for it, and are disappointed, I feel very apologetic. But we can’t just apologize. We want to make sure that we are providing them with something that they will enjoy. This goes hand-in-hand.
I wouldn’t say that I am stressed, and through this experience I have gained extensive understanding on why so many people are needed during the last leg of development. Looking at some of the global developers of open world games, we see that they bring in a lot of people during the final phase to finalize the game. This is something that I couldn’t unfortunately foresee, because it was a first time experience.
That said, I am grateful that I was able to learn from this experience, and to request two months of extension to the deadline to really finalize the game, optimize it, and polish it, and deliver it in the best conditions. I am really grateful for that.
The person who was really, really angry at the situation was my daughter (laughs). She assumed that the release of the game meant going on a trip somewhere, or getting more time with her dad, and she was very upset for the fact that it’s going to have to wait two more months. Surely that’s the same for a lot of the developers on our team, and I am very sorry about that as well.
Obviously, we were aware of the repercussions of extending the release date, and we made this decision together as a team. In that sense, we’re taking it to heart, and really taking as much time as possible to deliver the game in the best condition.
To read the entire interview, you can go here.
Final Fantasy XV will release worldwide on November 29th for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.