Interview: Hajime Tabata and Takeshi Nozue on Final Fantasy XV part II

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Check out the first part of the interview here.

Before the Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV event, Square Enix invited a few members of the media to sit down and chat with Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata and Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV director Takeshi Nozue in a roundtable interview.

Was there any monster or creature design you really wanted to get into XV?

Tabata: We’ve already sort of done this with XV already, and I’ve talked about it in the past. We’ve incorporated old designs of the old monsters from previous FFs, but using current-gen technology to make it realistic and believable for the present. What’s your favorite FF game?

Response: I’m weird, but Final Fantasy VIII.

Tabata: You think you’re weird yourself? It’s a very challenging system to get used to. The GFs in VIII were a very key point in that game system. So with FFVIII, the game system was in a way where when you played it, you really wanted to summon the GFs, because it looks so cool that you got really excited. We have that essence in FFXV. We’ve incorporated that idea and way of depicting it, but using current day technology to make it more realistic and believable.

There’s beautiful mix of East and West with the FFXV. While we’re watching the anime, we see them eating burgers just like anybody else, and in the demos, I noticed there were skewers. Is that paid product placement? Or did you seek that out?

Tabata: You sort of built it up at first, haha. Thank you for the praise though. Very good question. So we do have a very firm detailed collaboration policy for FFXV. The main four characters, if we could make it so that one of them really liked that brand, the idea was to make that collaboration incorporated into the game. That’s where it started. So it’s sort of a meta-theme, but Gladio is an outdoorsy type of guy and he likes camping, and he loves Coleman, so that’s incorporated into his character design and personality. That’s why we approached Coleman with the idea of this character who likes the outdoor campus. Could we do some kind of collaboration? And so our policy is, we incorporate it in to get that reality across and make it feel so that our everyday lives and our world makes it more believable. That’s why we incorporate Coleman. So if a character likes a specific brand per say and is a huge fan of it, there’s a huge chance that the brand may appear in the game

One thing you mentioned before during the press event was the decline of the FF series due to the series originally arriving in the previous HD generation (FFXIII-XIII-3). Final Fantasy XV will be the first entry into the current PlayStation 4/Xbox One generation, which will be first before other highly-expected titles like Final Fantasy VII Remake and Kingdom Hearts III. Was there any kind of pressure to deliver?

Tabata: No there was nothing I was really worried about, being the first one to enter the HD current generation compared to the other two titles. It just happened that we’re the first of the three to release on these systems, and somehow the release window was decided a while back, and it just happened that we’re the first to be released on these consoles out of the three.

One of the criticisms about the first demos is him throwing his sword, warping away to recover HP, or hiding under a rock and recovering for a bit. In the new demo, I did that against the Iron Giant. I was wondering if this is representative of the final game. Have you changed the gameplay from a hit and retreat, or are there ways you plan to change that and make it more action-packed?

Tabata: So I think it really comes down to player choice. It’s up to you as a player if you want to stick with your buddies and tough it out, or do you want to retreat, recover some HP, and then go back in. It’s all up to you. So in terms of the hanging feature, it is part of the strategy. If you want to recover to get your forces back together, it gives you a chance to recover the group as a whole, but there are going to be enemies where even if you’re far away and you think you’re safe, they’re still going to be able to hit you. There’s a deeper level of strategy, and it’s not going to be all just enemies that can’t reach you just because you’re hanging up there somewhere.

You might’ve realized this playing the Platinum Demo, but with the warp strike, the further away you are from the enemy and you use that, you get a multiplier in damage. So with the iron giant, it’s very hard to stagger it, but if you’re at a great distance and you use the warp strike and you’re successful in hitting it, you’re going to be able to stagger him with one hit. The system we’ve incorporated with the Platinum demo going forward is this hit and away system with Noctis and his companions. So his companions may hit, then he can hit and then retreat, or vice versa, and this constant back and forth. Not necessarily the same all the time. In terms of the cover feature in the episode Dust Sky, the enemy wasn’t able to find you because the enemy AI wasn’t fully incorporated. [It] wasn’t at the point we needed it to be at the time. Going forward, it is going to be improved on to match the rest of the game system.

In the press event, you mentioned the story is a key pillar of Final Fantasy, and so much of the story is….like in FFVII, the loss of that particular character. It just touches our heart. In FFXV, “brotherhood” is such a central theme to the story. Are all the characters safe, are they all going to survive, or is it possible we may lose some friends? And are there potentially multiple endings where some characters may survive and some not?

Tabata: No comment. [laugh] There is one ending.

Nozue, I really enjoyed Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. It was really beautifully done, adding more to the story of the Final Fantasy VII series. Of course, the movie released eight years after the first game, having already created an established universe set with after FF7, Dirge of Cerberus and Crisis Core. How was this different with Kingsglaive?

Nozue: For me, on Kingsglaive, when we rebranded from Final Fantasy Versus XVIII to FFXV, I was involved with the planning on the concept and main themes along with Mr. Tabata from a very early stage. I have a very firm understanding of the core concepts and themes, so for me, it’s been a lot easier than working on Advent Children. For me, there’s a greater level of freedom with Kingsglaive than AC, and along with that, a greater amount of freedom to make the characters more realistic and human. I think with King Regis, going forward, he’ll be a character that’ll be more fleshed out, more human, someone you can really relate to. Is that alright in terms of response? What did you like about AC?

NR: The animation, characters, battle sequences, mostly the nostalgia…

Nozue: To be quite frank with you, we’ve been able to do a few things we weren’t able to do in AC, because of the technology in terms of depiction and in terms of the visuals and whatnot. So in terms of current technology, we can do everything we did in AC relatively easy comparatively, so we can go much further, much higher with Kingsglaive now. So for AC, there’s that scene on the church where Tifa’s up on the wall and jump off of it to start the battle scene, and there’s a lot of things incorporated after the film was released. I think you can look forward to scenes like that a lot. In terms of your t-shirt, I hope that’ll turn into a Kingsglaive t-shirt. [laughs]

Why go for such a whimsical field in the Platinum Demo with the young Noctis. It’s such a striking contrast compared to the core game where you’re all grown up… almost to the same content as having cel shading, length, time, that wide of contrast?

Tabata: It was pretty Disney-esque, right? It’s because unlike the previous demo where it was giving you a glimpse of the full game, our goals with this demo are completely different. So for the title, it gives you a hint. With this demo, Platinum Demo is the title, and FFXV is the subtitle. Of course we’ve made it with the hope that FF or FFXV fans will give it a try. But as we are providing this as a free downloadable demo, we thought it’d be a horrible waste of an opportunity to not have people who aren’t familiar with FF try it out. So in order to do that, we decided for the name to have Platinum Demo at the top and also incorporate game features that aren’t so FF-driven and appeal to a broader audience. For people interested in FFXV and the franchise of the whole, you get a glimpse of who Noctis was as a child and what he felt, what he was thinking, and once you play the actual full game, it’ll give you better backdrop and better connection with him in the full game. And also because we wanted to get carbuncle and give it to the fans. So anyone who tries will get carbuncle. That’s a huge benefit in and of itself.

 

As far as the realistic look that we have in the film, is it possible to create a game with that look and feel, and if it was technically feasible, would you feel comfortable making FF look that way, or are you comfortable with how XV looks right now?

Tabata: One of our plans was to see that realistic depiction and see how we can try and incorporate it in our game, and technology-wise, see what we’re coming up short with, and what we need to work on. The goal going forward is to be able to do this in real time during the game. So going forward, we’re hoping we’ll be able to reach that and the technology advances and researches we’re going to be doing with Kingsglaive and XV.

Thank you both for your time!

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Chris Del Castillo
Chris Del Castillo 2588 posts

Growing up Chris watched a lot of the original Saturday morning cartoons and developed a love for arts and animation. Growing up he tried his hand at animation and eventually script writing, but even more his love of video games, anime and technology grew.