In an earlier report, we discussed how Square Enix talked about Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII’s world-driven concept, featuring four different continents with their distinct characteristics. Dengeki recently caught up with Square Enix staff members, to discuss the thoughts that went into the creation of the four continents in Luxerion and Yusnaan.
Dengeki starts the interview by asking Kazuyuki Shindo, unit leader of all continents, about the responsibilities he took on during development.
“I was in charge of the level design, placement of the citizens and more. Also, things such as where the battles will occur,” answers Shindo. “Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy has the four continents of Luxerion, Yusnaan, Dead Dunes, and The Wildlands. At first, director Toriyama had told us that as long as we made Luxerion into a religious city with a gothic base as its main element, the rest was up to us.”
“After advancing through a certain degree of production, we would talk to Toriyama, then with design director Yuji Abe about how to shape up the world-driven elements.”
Dengeki then asks about the experience of working with Toriyama and Abe, who often gave the developers very detailed instructions.
“Around May of last year, the unit leaders including Masahiro Ishihara and I, gathered and spoke with Abe about the general world-driven concept, and with Toriyama about the image of all the continents,” says Shindo. “Then about a month ago, we gathered various types of staff members, not limited to the planning staff, and discussed various ideas and concepts. From there, each unit talked about what they’d like to do for their own cities, and then it was like a competition of content for all four continents.”
The above images shows the Divine City of Light, Luxerion, on the left; and the City of Revelry, Yusnaan, to the right. As you can see, both cities are quite different in appearance, which is the result of having different units for the four continents of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. The Yusnaan unit leader shares more on the subject.
“Basically, we were all in individually in charge and were able to make our own continents,” reiterates Masahira Ishihara, who led development of Yusnaan.
“However, Shindo needed to be thorough at all times, otherwise the the material could have overlapped. That’s where the unit leaders spoke amongst themselves, so if Yusnaan focused more on the night, they would think about making another continent focus more on the daytime, and they were able to put in the energy to split things up and continue progressing.”
According to Shindo, it was Toriyama that gave instructions for each continent to have its own theme. The concepts he had were: a mystery-suspense feel for Luxerion, a spy theme for Yusnaan, grand nature for The Wildlands, and labyrinth exploring for the Dead Dunes.
Ishihara adds, “Each continent’s introductions and endings were already decided, but the process and development in between weren’t, so it was up to each unit to decide on how to beef it up. The continent’s competition stage is the part that decided on those details.”
Since Shindo and Ishihara were both unit leaders of their own continents, they take the occasion to share a few details on their respective work.
“The citizens of this city somehow know that there isn’t much time left. However, they don’t know when the end will arrive.” says Shindo, who led development of Luxerion, but also oversaw the other three continents. “In order to remind themselves about the remaining time, there are various clocks placed everywhere. Of course, the time indicated on the system’s top-right part of the screen is properly linked with it.”
“Compared to other continents, Luxerion was made to be relatively basic,” continues Shindo. “As for Luxerion’s base, the standard evaluation included ideas such as ‘let’s add more trees,’ or ‘let’s take these elements out so we can bring out those characteristics better in the other cities’. Again, it is considered a religious city, but it’s also a business city, so you’ll see people walking around in suits.”
Ishihara shares, “Lightning will be a spy in Yusnaan, and the story will be about infiltrating in the palace. There are guardrooms around the city, with guards anticipating Lightning’s infiltration, and they will attack her if she’s found. The time limit will be relatively tough here, and there will be various actions that are required; so in a way, this continent could be the most severe to play of all continents.”
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is slated for release in February 2014 in the U.S. and Europe for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.