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Square Enix press conference answers questions about FFXIII

July 14, 2008

Square Enix press conference answers questions about FFXIII 

Company fields media questions in wake of announcement at Microsoft press conference 

With the gentle Final Fantasy Prelude strains floating through the background, Square Enix opened its press conference with a focus on the Microsoft press conference announcement that Final Fantasy XIII will be available on the 360 platform.

Square Enix, a company whose name is synonymous with games that push the graphical limits of console systems, seated Corporate Executive Shinji Hashimoto and Final Fantasy XIII Producer Yoshinori Kitase to answer media questions about the title and the Microsoft announcement. At a press conference held earlier, Microsoft had announced FFXIII for the 360.  

In many ways, the announcement of the availability of FFXIII on the 360 is the ending of an era. For a long time, the series was exclusive to the Sony consoles. In fact, the first question asked in the open forum setting dealt with precisely that.

(It should be noted that the event was held with translators on the scene. All questions worded in English were translated to the game’s representatives, who answered in Japanese, which was then translated back in English.) 

Why end the exclusive with Sony (SCEA) on Final Fantasy? 

Hashimoto: First of all we considered the situation of the hardware and we would like to provide Final Fantasy XIII to as much as possible in the world. Because of the spread of the hardware, we decided that way.

Will the 360 version be the same as the PS3 version and how will it fit on the DVD? 

Kitase: As for the contents, we are planning for them to be the same. As for the media situation we have to consider the Blu-ray and the other format, so it might be different. 

Can you give us an update for the game, or a status report on the game’s progress? 

Kitase: As for the development itself, we are utilizing a new tool called the Crystal Tools. We are developing the title on a PC. Our pace is going a little faster, we have not introduced new footage (to the public on new assets for the game), but in the future we probably will release new footage.

Does the release of Final Fantasy on the 360 mark a new path or future for Final Fantasy games on the 360?

Hashimoto: For now we are busy about Final Fantasy 13 and it is a full load. So we don’t really have any idea for the future move.

Will 360 and PS3 versions ship simultaneously?

Hashimoto: I will give you our process of the shipment. As we announced at the Microsoft presentation as of today we are ready to start developing the title for the 360. As we have already announced, first we will complete the PS3 in Japan and after that we will start localization for the U.S. and Europe. At the same time we will start the Xbox 360 development.

As for the U.S., the PS3 and 360 will be released at the same time. In Europe also, the PS3 and 360 will be released at the same.

Kitase: As for the timing between the U.S. and Europe, we will try to make it as close as possible. As for the localization between the U.S. and Europe, we will try to make it as close as possible.

Are there plans to offer exclusive content for the different platforms or will the games be identical?

Hashimoto: As for the content and the gameplay we don’t have any intention to make so much difference for the platforms.

Regarding the 360, the release in Japan, it is not announced. Is the reason because of the situation (with Sony’s position in the market), is it about the hardware or the contract?

Hashimoto: As I have already mentioned, considering the marketing situation in the U.S. and Europe and the spread of the 360, that was the reason. As for the Japanese market and direction, we have not changed anything.

Regarding the other Asian markets, what is your direction?

Hashimoto: We haven’t finalized anything regarding that.

Is it safe to assume because of the difference in the two controls, that there will be no difference in the control schemes to have the versions identical (as in no motion sensors in the 360 controllers)?

Kitase: For now we don’t have any plan for that.

How will this affect the release of FFXIII Versus? Will that also be multiple platforms?

Hashimoto: As for the Versus, we haven’t changed anything.

With the announcement of the Last Remnant on Windows, has there been any discussion of Final Fantasy XIII on the PC?

Kitase: For now it has yet to be decided.

FFXIII is using a proprietary engine and will be the last game to use that engine. Can you explain why?

Kitase: Currently we are using the Crystal Tools to develop the Final Fantasy XIII, we will use that engine for the Versus and for the MMORPG.

Why did you decide to go with the Unreal Engine 3?

Hashimoto: We mainly utilized Unreal Engine for the next-generation RPG games; as for The Last Remnant, we have developed that game from an earlier time. At that time we thought that engine was more appropriate for a next-generation game.

What other games – like Mass Effect - influenced you?

Kitase: We are aware of the Mass Effect games but we are not influenced by those.

Considering the Crystal Tools was designed for multiple platforms, what does it do for the development of the title?

Hashimoto: (citing the multi platforms that FFXI has appeared on, he said) We have already done it. It is a natural evolution for us and as we go for a next-generation RPG, the Crystal Tools is utilized. As for the timing, we considered the stability of the Crystal Tools. It wasn’t a really long time ago we made the decision. We had to adjust so many things, so it wasn’t a long time ago we made the decision about the 360.

By using the Crystal Tools, what kind of workload does that produce for localization?

Kitase: It’s kind of hard to explain in detail, basically we will make the game be able to be operated on the PC. That is the kind of level of work we will put into it. Currently we will work on getting the PS3 to work, then, depending on the hardware of the 360, we will start to work on that.

(It was explained that the title is working on the PC, then the next step will be prioritizing for the PS3 and then work on the 360 version.)

What do you predict for the sales figures between the two platforms?

Hashimoto: We just made the announcement and then we will start the research about the market and the marketing. We are just starting and then in the future we will make a decision.

FFXII was very close in some aspects to an MMO, and we’ve heard that FFXIII will be very close to an MMO. Is it the idea to bring the experience of an MMO to an offline RPG?

Kitase: Every time we release a new game we try to make its own game design. We don’t try to make it close to the previous one. So we are trying to make a new design.

Now that FFXIII has been announced for the 360, are there any plans to take advantage of Xbox LIVE?

Kitase: For now it is to be decided.

Kitase has been doing FFVII for a while now. Does he find it very different to be doing FFXIII?

Kitase:
Mainly because of the evolution of the hardware we could stretch our capacity a little more. Because of the memory and the hardware we could introduce a lot of new things. Those are the main differences. As for the details, you will find out little by little.

How will the action of FFXIII differ from FFXII?

Kitase: Somebody mentioned the difference between 12 and 13, regarding the MMO type of gameplay. Overall I will say the entire atmosphere is different. It is a difference between the tempo and the speed. Even on the screen you can see it is a little more flashy and you can feel more excitement in FFXIII.

What is your favorite Final Fantasy game and why?

Hashimoto: Actually I’ve been deeply involved with 7, and I did many things with the visuals and compilation so I am most attached to 7.

Kitase: Mr. Hashimoto explained everything. I am very involved with 7, so FF7 is the one.

How much of the fight sequences in FFXIII were influenced by Advent Children?

Kitase: It may not have a direct influence from Advent Children but I think it is true we have been steered in that direction by that. It was a good influence and the speed … probably indirectly we were influenced. And you asked regarding the turned based or not, we are using a system called ATB; we cannot give you details on that.
 

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