The full interview from Dengeki Online has now been human translated. Since it has been human translated, further new details have emerged from the interview that didn’t come through well or not at all in the machine translation.
“At E3 2006, the long awaited new entry to the series, Final Fantasy XIII (here after referred to as FFXIII) was unveiled. As the 13th numbered title, FFXIII will not just be one entry, but will be several titles instead. Today we will be talking to five key staff members in the project and as we learn from them about the various different titles. Please pay attention, because we will also find out more about another game they are related to – Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII.
“Fabula Nova Crystallis” – a brand new “FF” compromising of multiple titles
- With three titles in development, when was it decided to go in this direction with “FFXIII” as Fabula Nova Crystallis?
Hashimoto: The FFXIII concept has been in planning stages for three years now. When Nomura was working on the “Kingdom Hearts II” project, he was concurrently planning on the development of “FFXIII” on the PS2.
Kitase: It was the timing. After “Kingdom Hearts” was completed, and “FFX-2″ was completed, we had to decide what to work on next.
- So at that time the plan was to have all the titles on the PS2?
Kitase: Correct. At that time we would not even have seen the PS3 yet.
Nomura: However at the time of proposal, only “FFVersusXIII” had the probability of being next-generation, due to timing concerns.
- When “Kingdom Hearts II” first started development, was “FFXIII” already planned as several projects?
Nomura: Yes, at that point there were already two projects in planning.
Kitase: “FFXIII” and “FFVersusXIII” were the ones in planning stage. From those two projects, Hashimoto further expanded on the plan and the production for “FFAgitoXIII” was decided.
Tabata: It was with the conclusion of “Before Crisis -FFVII-” that we started discussing about what to do next. I think that was about a year ago.
- What exactly is the connection between the various titles? It is only the common mythology as a base like it is publically known now?
Toriyama: Yes, at the current stage that only connection is the common mythology. Aside from that there isn’t anything holding the various productions back at all. As we go through the development process, there might be more connections created, but for now the only common base is the mythology.
- Is the method of presentation for that mythology also unique to each project?
Toriyama: Naturally there will be differences. It is possible that by playing all the projects, the full understanding of the mythology will come into view.
- As for the mythology itself, who created it?
Kitase: The mythology was the beginning of everything, and it was basically created by all the members here together with Mr. Nojima (Kazushige).
- The logos of the various titles along with the logo of Fabula Nova Crystallis itself, are these four illustrations related to the mythology?
Kitase: Ah, that is a secret. (laughs)
>- Is there a relationship in how they are arranged?
Nomura: If you think about it, there is probably meaning in the arrangement. The illustrations for the logos are delicately drawn by Mr Amano (Yoshitaka) using a pen. Previously many elaborate ones were done by brush, but this time it is the intention of Amano to give the logos a pen touch. The reason for this cannot be revealed yet.
Kitase: The logo illustrations are drawn to represent the base concepts. Pretty much all of the design is freely created by Amano. What you see in the illustrations are all thought up by Amano. I did not think much of line drawings, but it turned out really unique and refreshing.
- What is the image color of each project?
Nomura: For numbered titles in the “FF” series, the base color has always been white. Therefore to keep with traditional, “FFXIII” will also be white. For “FFVersusXIII”, as it forms an opposing pair, it will be black.
- Have the image colors for the unannounced titles in “Fabula Nova Crystallis” already been decided?
Kitase: As for other titles in “Fabula Nova Crystallis”, as long as there is no defined status, there can be none. When there is a concept in place, then it can planned and decided.
“Final Fantasy XIII” – Overwhelming graphics and refined battles
- There is concern about the battle scenes in “FFXIII”. From watching the video, it’s impossible to figure out how the battles will be played.
Toriyama: As a successor to the traditional “FF” series, “FFXIII” also takes ATB (Active Time Battle) to the next level. The design concept is to maintain the strategic side of command input battles while allowing the enjoyment of fast-paced battles.
- So it will be a command input type like before?
Toriyama: Yes. The speedy feeling of the battles are based on that. The player will input the commands and the actions are executed in a continuos chain.
- There are quite a number of unique action patterns for the character. Is the battle system a successor to the ATB system?
Toriyama: The foundation is still that of ATB, but by manipulating the time axis, a brand new type of battles can be seen.
- Watching the video, the battles really resemble those of “FFVII Advent Children”.
Toriyama: “FFXIII” took on the challenge of seeing how much of the battles in “FFVII Advent Children” can be recreated in a game. The battles that were impossible to be presented in current “FF” games were shown in “FFVII Advent Children”. In reverse, “FFXIII” will show how much of that can be represented in the game.
- Will there be a party of characters in the game?
Toriyama: Yes. There are times where it is only one person, but there will also be a party formed. In party battles, party members will be able to chain combination actions as well and battle environments will be used in full.
- Is the fast-paced battle system the main aim of the design?
Toriyama: Being speedy is only a part of it. We also aim to match it with strategic aspect.
- Doesn’t it seem hard to have a system that is both fast and strategic?
Toriyama: Strategic battles always feel the best. Combining both will be a really good fit. With the “FFX” team together again, I feel that showcasing a brand new type of battle only on the PS3 is a good challenge.
- As for the worldview, with hair colors different from previous “FF” entries isn’t there a feel of a different atmosphere?
Toriyama: Although previously “FFVII” and “FFVIII” both had futuristic worldviews, “FFXIII” will feature the most futuristic worldview in the series. It is presented more like science-fiction than fantasy. The foundation of the worldview is the Crystal mythology which unites fantasy with the futuristic aspects, but the feeling of realism will be clearly represented and not be lost.
- The level of civilization in the world also feels very developed.
Toriyama: With machines, their appearances will look far more refined. As the PS3 is a new hardware, it is quite a challenge. In the video you can see the “Gravity Bomb” being used. In the past this was the spell “Gravity” but in this world it is used as a weapon.
- Is this a world where magic and technology are both united in the civilization?
Toriyama: Well for example you can’t use “Fire” to cook, everything will be completely burnt! (laughs) This world is one where things are controlled with machines.
- Seeing that “FFXIII” is your first PS3 project, how do you feel about the hardware?
Toriyama: For those with a powerful sense of expression, it is great to be able to finally reproduce what we really want to create. The experience in the game can be polished down to the smallest details everywhere and currently there is no feeling of any limitation at all. (laughs)
- How easy is it to work on it?
Kitase: To create something similar to the PS2 will be extremely easy, but it is when you attempt to create something of PS3 quality that you realize the effort put into the production of a normal RPG is simply not enough. This is reflected in the schedule of the “FFXIII”.
- The “White Engine” was created for the purpose of producing “FFXIII”, is that right?
Kitase: Previously, with “FFX” the development of the game was done by the internal team completely. This time, a special technical team has been put together to build the development environment and libraries, including the graphics engine, motion control, etc. The White Engine was created by this team and will be used in the development of “FFXIII”.
- Will the environment be reused in future on the development of other PS3 projects?
Kitase: Most likely what is used on “FFXIII” will also be used on “FFVersusXIII”. Due to the differences in the nature of both games, there will have to be changes made of course.
- On the graphical side, with the PS3, the difference between the movies and the in-game visuals are reduced greatly.
Toriyama: Both have their uses, and should be used at the right time. If it is felt that in the same scene a movie would provide a smoother feel, it will be used. On the other hand if it is felt that a real-time cutscene is more appropriate for an event scene, it will be used. For the player as long as there is no negative feeling, it makes no difference.
- While the graphics are definitely superb, isn’t there concern about the player controlled gameplay segments?
Toriyama: That will be saved for next year’s E3. What you have seen in the video this time is a true representation of what to expect from the gameplay segments as well.
- In the video, only when the command menu first appeared did we realize it was part of the actual gameplay.
Toriyama: It will be playable in that state. It’ll be nice if we could show it earlier but… (laughs)
Hashimoto: The scene where the heroine is walking through the forest is really great.
Toriyama: In that scene, because the camera work is rather fast some might not have noticed but you can see insects flying and the leaves swaying as well. That scene is actually a playable part of the game and players will be able to freely stop and appreciate the fine details then.
Hashimoto: I guess when the command menu pops up everyone will realize that. (laughs)
- Is there any possibility of online capabilities in the game?
Kitase: Although it is not in the schedule currently, it might be added half a year later. The main portion of the game will not use any network elements, but there might be something interesting planned. Now that the graphical expectations are met, we can research on how to utilize the online capabilities.
“Final Fantasy Versus XIII” – Created as the extreme opposite of “FFXIII”
- If the worldview of “FFXIII” is the future, then can we think of “FFVersusXIII” as the present?
Nomura: The worldview is… a really strange world. (laughs) The wide view of the city at the start of the video might have given the impression that it is set in our modern age. This is a world unlike any previous “FF” game. However, it is not our present age, it if were the present it would stop being fantasy. While it definitely looks like an era like our own, it is better to think of it as an “Other World”. A world where a different culture developed. In the video, there is a scene where many armored soldiers appear and give an impression of the setting being the middle ages. Originally armored soldiers would be using swords and magic, but in this case they use firearms. On the other hand, the main character who looks like a modern person, uses swords. This is the strange and unusual worldview whereby “FFVersusXIII” is set.
- In that case which era does magic fit in with.
Nomura: Magic will remain in the modern age.
- What made you set the worldview as a modern era?
Nomura: There were plans of a modern era before. In the original plot of “FFVII” it was set in the modern era. Since it ended up not being used, I personally embraced the idea of a “FF set in the modern era” and decided to take it as a challenge.
- Is the concept of the game basically controlling the main character who is a youth with silver hair and red eyes?
Nomura: Yes. Although, while the heroine of “FFXIII” who was revealed is actually a completed design, the lead of “FFVersusXIII” is still in the design process. There will be more details added before we show the final design. Suddenly he might be wearing red clothes although the impression is pretty much the same. (laughs)
- It seems “FFVersusXIII” is really an opposite of “FFXIII” even down to the protagonists.
Nomura: “FFVersusXIII” is a complete dark project and hence it is black. (laughs) Even the story is a dark tale, because at the beginning the plan was for it to be the shadow of “FFXIII”. When you create a shadow, the line of thought that follows automatically makes the image fit as a shadow. The image naturally became such that “FFXIII” was light and “FFVersusXIII” was shadow. The story itself is not an opposite either, but by giving “FFVersusXIII” which is a stand alone story the title of “FFXIII” there is a danger there. On the other hand, when you see “FFVersusXIII” it doesn’t give an impression of a numbering title. “Versus” in Latin means “a change in direction”, while in English “Versus” would create the meaning of “to oppose”. That is the plan of this project.
- Being produced by the “Kingdom Hearts” team, can we expect a product that is high on action?
Nomura: The graphical portions are handled by staff who have worked on “FFVII” and “FFVIII”. It is the main real-time planning that is handled by the “Kingdom Hearts” staff. They have been involved with productions which specialize in action for a long time now. It is because we want to utilize what they are best at that this action packed “FF” was decided upon.
- In the video it can be seen that as the bullets fly in the the air the swords instantly appear. Is that even in the game?
Nomura: That scene did showcase such an ability, but at this time it isn’t in battles, it is just one of many ideas we have. You can also see another concept, that of manipulating various swords at the same time.
- At the press conference you mentioned that a theme in the project was “pain”, can you explain what that meant?
Nomura: The current plot is truly very sad. It can be said that pain is from not having any bonds, but it is also the feeling that comes from a tragic story. There will likely not be a love relationship in the story, and it there is it is not what you will imagine. (laughs) You are probably thinking that instead of love it is friendship, but that is not to say there are no female characters. Simply that the main drive of the start is bonds and the pain that accompany them. That is the true nature of pain.
Kitase: Just now you mentioned that “FFVersusXIII” faces the challenge of being identified with the numbering. It is adventurous isn’t it. It is something that I’ve been wanting to do but has not been possible until now. With a game it is often thought to create a conclusion which can be continued. On the other hand we seldom think of how refreshing it can be to have a climax that will remain concluded.
Nomura: After the announcement, there were many questions about the dark hero characteristic of the story, but it is not something so cool. It is not the case where the entire story and all the characters are completely dark. The story contains pain, but that is a realistic part of the expression between the characters and the hero as part of friendship. The story tells of companions who spend time together and the happiness they share each day as well as the heavy responsibilities they carry.
Kitase: Even thought it is a tragedy, there should be some hope somewhere.
Nomura: We’ll talk about that next time.
Final Fantasy Agito XIII – The significance of being on Mobile Phones
- After “Before Crisis -FFVII-”, what can you say are the merits of being on the mobile phone?
Tabata: Mobile phones are always being carried around. This portability aspect is one of the main aspects. I also want to express the meaning of “why is is portable” through the gameplay. That way people will feel that “this is only possible on a mobile phone”.
- What about the point of game being easy to play?
Tabata: That is also a very important element.
- What is the feeling expressed in the image for the entire game?
Tabata: It differs from “Before Crisis -FFVII-” quite a bit. With “Before Crisis -FFVII-” the game was delivered in chapters every month and each chapter had a short playtime. in “FFAgitoXIII” I want players to spend more time on the game and as they spend more time in the world of the game appreciate it more.
Nomura: In “Before Crisis -FFVII-”, the game was progressed by missions. In “FFAgitoXIII”, the concept is living in a world and enjoying it. When playing online, isn’t it better to be part of an event rather than waiting for something to be transmitted?
Tabata: Of course there is transmission, but compared to “Before Crisis -FFVII-” the style of transmission will be different.
- Does it use any features of mobile phones?
Tabata: Yes, that is the advantage that it can be accessed anytime at any place.
Nomura: Concerning this, there is something big being planned. With mobile phones there can be some really refreshing ideas. With “Before Crisis -FFVII-”, the creation of Materia was possible using the phone’s camera function. It is stuff like this that is only possible with mobile phones.
- The genre of the game is RPG?
Tabata: Yes, it is an online RPG. However, it is not quite a MMORPG. The stand alone and online portions co-exist and the game can be enjoyed without connecting to the network. You do not login to play with other players in the game, instead when playing in stand alone there are a variety of network features that will allow the player to naturally enjoy the online aspects.
- Is that similar to the “Rescue Missions” that were available in the online portions of “Before Crisis -FFVII-”?
Tabata: There are features that are similar to that, and there are those that are completely different.
Nomura: Compared to “Before Crisis -FFVII-”, the number of players that can be at a location will probably be increased.
- Looking at the illustration, will there be 13 lead characters?
Tabata: No, no, there are 12 characters.
Nomura: Please don’t count the Moogle. (laughs) That’s my playful characteristic. I’m happy thinking up various things. Originally before coloring it wasn’t there, but since there was extra space I inserted it.
- The player does not play as all 12 characters right?
Tabata: You select one out of the twelve characters to play.
- Aside from the character you select, there will be other NPCs and player characters as well right?
Tabata: That is correct.
- In the illustration each character has unique weapon, how is this reflected in the game itself?
Tabata: You are linked to the main character of the game will feel different from the other characters. By playing more of the character you will understand more about the character. When playing with other players you will feel that stronger. That is the intention.
- The base of the game is the main characters experiencing life on the campus of the Magic School Perisitium?
Tabata: The campus life creates the story narrative while developing the entire worldview.
- Are you worried about the battle system part of the game?
Tabata: This is an important topic. For seamless play when different players are playing together, the command input type would be best.
Nomura: If it is an action type system, when players team up online, it would be a great stress on the network.
Tabata: To lower the hurdle, for now the plan is to go with command type.
- How much of the development is complete at this stage?
Tabata: At this stage all development is done on the PC. It is quite a headache because as there is no firm hardware base yet, no one really understands the network environment. This will have to be worked out when we discuss with the various carriers of the phone companies.
Nomura: With “Before Crisis -FFVII-” it was developed because of interest from various carriers. This time it’s different because there is still no firm idea of what offers we will receive, hence development is being done without a set carrier in mind.
- What changes can we expect from next-generation mobile phones?
Tabata: Naturally the graphics will be improved, and the communication speed will be improved. Additionally with the upgrade and improvement of any hardware, new attractive features will appear. As to how these will affect the game, that will be decided in future.
- So the model type being undecided is one of the undecided parts.
Tabata: Well because “FFAgitoXIII” is announced, the producer is happy to finally begin working on the business end of things. (laughs)
“Fabula Nova Crystallis”, “Compilation of FFVII” – Future announcements of each project
- Let us know about the future developments in both “Fabula Nova Crystallis” and “Compilation of FFVII” please.
Hashimoto: Because “Fabula Nova Crystallis” is connected to the PS3 hardware which will be on sale by then, expect more news at next years E3. As for the “Compilation of FFVII”, together with “CC” the four works in the series is all there is at present.
- Are the platforms of “Fabula Nova Crystallis” fixed on PS3 and mobile phones?
Kitase: There are two PS3 titles and one mobile phone title for now. Of course I want to extend it to other hardwares as well. The entire plan for the series is large and I want to talk much more about it. Unfortunately you will have to look forward to new year’s E3 for more, I promise there will be major announcements then.”
Translation: Duckroll of www.gamebrink.com
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