When Final Fantasy XIII released earlier this year, it was met with some of the most divided opinions in the history of the series. Some criticized the game’s linearity. Others found that the linearity helped make the game more approachable. Some criticized the characters. Others found them more real than those of past Final Fantasies.
But Square Enix have their own ideas as to what went wrong and what went right with FFXIII, and game creators Motomu Toriyama and Akihiko Maeda discuss this in the latest issue of Game Developer magazine.
Something people often tend to forget is that game development is a team effort. No game is designed by one person. The end product is often the result of a shared vision. Square, however, argue that perhaps Final Fantasy XIII never had a shared vision.
They begin by discussing the game’s debut trailer at E3 2006, by which point, they admit, no playable content had actually been developed:
"I felt that this trailer set the bar for the quality we were aiming to achieve, in terms of battle speed and cutscene imagery, and believed that this sentiment was shared by the rest of the team.
However, it became clear that, at the time, there were actually very few members who saw the trailer as a representation of what we wanted to achieve with Final Fantasy XIII. This lack of a shared vision became the root of many conflicts that arose later in development."
Gamasutra have a nice, informative summary of the Final Fantasy XIII post-mortem, which you can read on their site. It goes on to talk about technical difficulties, a failure to implement feedback from overseas gamers in a timely manner and even the game’s demo and what Square Enix learnt from it.