The Hunt for November

blogging anime and life

Final Fantasy XIII Tidbits

After reading the post-mortem interview in Game Informer #204, here are some of my thoughts.

While reading issue 204 of Game Informer, I stumbled over the interview that GI did with Yoshinori Kitase and Motomu Toriyama, the producer and director of Final Fantasy XIII. While GI glossed over much of the criticism that the game has received (the incredibly linear story, the low quality of the 360 port, and the absurd amount of time that it takes to open up, etc.), they did answer some questions that have been asked about the design of the game.

Here are two of the more interesting quotes from the article, and my thoughts on the answers:

Q: “Was adapting the game to the Xbox 360 a difficult process?”

A: “Transitioning Final Fantasy XIII to multiplatform was not a huge obstacle, as the Crystal Tools engine was created with multiplatform development in mind. The game data and CG data were shared between the two platform versions as well, so the workload for this part of the development never increased.”

I should preface my thoughts by acknowledging that the first question of the interview was in regards to the FFXIII team changing the game engine from the White engine to the Crystal Tools engine to make it more adaptable to other projects, such as FFXIV. The biggest problem that I’ve had with the 360 port is that it seemed like they didn’t attempt to make the CG cutscenes run smoothly on 360. The general consensus is that the CG cutscenes are absolutely gorgeous on the PS3, while they didn’t even bother to make minor changes or choose a codec that would have facilitated better playback on the 360. As a direct result of this, some of the cutscenes chug though they could have been easiy modified to benefit from some of the 360’s hardware differences. This carelessness is reflected in Kitase’s response, as he confirmed that the CG assets were just ported over to the 360 instead of making conscious design choices between the two.

Q: “At what point in the development process of Final Fantasy XIII was it decided that players would not be exploring towns in the same way as previous games in the series?”

A: “In Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning and the other main characters are persecuted and on the run within their world as dangerous l’Cie. The concept of exploring towns and shopping did not make sense in light of the plot, so from the very start of development we decided that “towns” would be incorporated in the form of a handful of large cities. Instead of adhering to the traditional style of RPG gameplay, we wanted to involve players by presenting one dramatic situation after the other. The residents of each town are fully voiced, which is something new to the series, and something we hope fans will have fun with.”

Well, I guess that’s a fair explanation for the lack of depth that the towns have in the game. I’m only in Chapter 9, but I think it’s fair to say that the towns, though good-looking, lack depth and interesting dialogue.

I never really thought about it in terms of the story, so I think I can excuse the lack of attention paid to the towns, but it still reeks of laziness. Why not have other Pulse l’Cie or anti-government rebels like Snow’s group team up with you or even exchange dialogue with you? Why was Nautilus so full of people that you couldn’t talk to, though they clearly had no idea you were a Pulse l’Cie? Why do the NPC’s eschew even casual Fallout 3-esque conversation in favor of just blurting out their lines as you approach or run by?

I don’t think that Toriyama’s explanation fully excuses the lackluster handling of towns and NPC’s, but it at least gives an in-universe explanation to those that wanted one. I do want to add that calling attention to the “fully voiced” residents is a little disingenuous, seeing as how you don’t actually talk to them, they just talk when you’re around.

To close, Final Fantasy XIII is a flawed game, and the 360 port earns all the scorn that it receives. What gamers cannot deny is that it tries to tell a story that falls well within the established FF style and that it’s a step in a different direction, if not advancing the game along the track that FFXII paved.

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March 27, 2010 - Posted by | games | , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. There is no such thing as ‘laziness’, especially when it comes to SE’s flagship franchise. They can’t afford to be so arrogant that they can be Lazy when the sales for the franchise have gone down since FFX.

    That said, Toriyama’s telling the truth, although it’s not the whole of it. SE wanted us to fully concentrate on the story this time, and if there were towns, NPC’s and sidequests, that would break the story’s pacing. You’d forget about the story and do something else instead, like talk to NPC’s or explore the town. That’s something SE wanted to avoid.

    However, they didn’t want to completely remove extra content and such, but didn’t really know where to implement it. They did find a good place to put that content though, to the end of the game where the pacing and story gives room for it.

    The design choices have been carefully decided by Square, and I assure you there is no room for laziness in a project like this. Story is what the devs wanted to emphasize in this game, and the design choices reflect that. That’s what it comes down to.

    It’s really 50/50 if people like the game or hate it. Never before have the fans been so polarized than with this game. Maybe a middleroad could have proven to be a better choice- The story would have suffered because of it, however.

    It’s not easy to make a generally accepted game when your fanbase is divided in so many parts- people who like content (sidequests, towns, NPC’s), people who like story, people who like ‘oldschool’, people who want new experiences, people who like MMO’s, people who hate MMO’s… there aren’t many factors that are commonly thought as “good”. Because FF’s have been so different especially the recent ones, every game has generated a different fanbase.

    SE just has to try to please as many as possible, but unfortunately I don’t think they can please everyone anymore.

    Comment by Niko | March 28, 2010 | Reply


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