Square Enix’s video game director, Hajime Tabata currently working on the upcoming Final Fantasy XV game did few press interviews with 4Gamer, Famitsu, and Kotaku.
Hajime Tabata is popular for Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, Final Fantasy Type-0 and The 3rd Birthday and now replaced replaced Tetsuya Nomura as a director for Final Fantasy XV.
Speaking with 4Gamer, Tabata outlined a bit of the game, stating that – despite Nomura’s departure – the fundamental game systems are more or less already implemented. He doesn’t expect the game to take much longer after the release of the demo, and certainly not years and years.
His plan since taking over the development as a director was to have progress continue with a set release date in his mind. He showed off the game at this Tokyo Game Show 2014 because of the progress made since July of 2012 when the platform shift occurred.
The team only works after things have been hashed out in an effort to avoid wasting time and resources. This framework is firmly in place, so Tabata doesn’t expect major scheduling shifts going forward. He consults with Nomura, the development team, and management to put Final Fantasy XV on track to be best it can be.
“I joined the project about two years ago, and around that time, we changed platforms, Tabata told Kotaku. We re-examined Final Fantasy XV‘s development structure. We had the gameplay team, the cinematics or CG team, and the game engine team.
And we finally merged them all together to work on this game. I think we can deliver the best that Square Enix has to offer. This is not the exact same game. The director is different, and the platform was switched to the current gen.
And because the platform has changed, there were things we had to re-evaluate, like what we can and cannot do or even what we have to do. The various circumstances are different.
But that’s not to say the game has lost its core. I wanted to make sure that characters, like Noctis, that are so important to Nomura, are maintained in the best possible way.
When I joined the development team, we’ve also shifted from primarily using pre-rendered CG to a mix of pre-rendered CG and in-game images that are at the quality of a pre-rendered image.”
“The party is still male characters only,” Tabata confirms. This has been true since the game was still Final Fantasy Versus XIII and The idea of road movie vibe.
The Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae demo trailer features all in-game footage, except for the spaceships flying which was pre-rendered.
Tabata’s concept is friendship and the journey. The design takes advantage of that. Noctis is the main character, but his friends should be treated as main characters in all scenes of the game.
“I think we can get the demo’s graphics at about 80 percent of what we hope to achieve. By the time the game is released, we hope to achieve 100 percent,” he said Famitsu.
Moving on to the trailer which was shown at TGS, we saw Noctis and his friends on a road trip in a black sports car.
“Even though it’s a single player game, we want you to feel like you are actually going across the continent with your companions in the car, Tabata told Kotaku.
It’s as if they’re real people traveling with you. We certainly made the driving so it’s enjoyable and fun. The driving replicates the feel of controlling a car, but doesn’t go into the nitty-gritty of it.
Still, it was designed to feel real. Myself and other members of the staff are very much into cars.”
Tabata advises fans to consider the car as a member of the crew, as you would need to travel mostly by car, but it’s also possible by foot, but going to far off places would take time. Walking is primarily for getting into places that can’t be entered by car.
“Whether it’s driving or combat, you can do what you like in the game, Tabata told Kotaku.
There is that freedom. It’s open world, and it’s possible to go where you want and explore. That being said, if the game is totally open world, it kind of defeats what makes a Final Fantasy game Final Fantasy—which is the dramatic and cinematic storytelling.
The game is balanced to ideally satisfy those fans who like traditional Final Fantasy storytelling so they can feel like they’re following an epic story.”
Tabata talks about weather patterns that will change over time in the game. Weather has a tactical impact on battle conditions, with different types of magic having varying effects depending on weather patterns.
Using fire on a clear day, for example, will not only hurt monsters, but also ignite surrounding area, make allies feel hot, and the like. As such, using magic can be a liability to Noctis, too, he told 4Gamer.
“A day in the game world last about 30 minutes in real time, Tabata told Famitsu. You can fight the Adamantoise, but it might take 30 in-game days to defeat the monster.
You will mostly camp out during the actual game. And camping out is important. Since time is a real factor, characters who don’t sleep will do worse in battle.
When a day is over, accrued experience will be calculated in an effort to give players an idea of how much they’ve accomplished over that stretch of time.
Monsters in dungeons will also wander above ground during night, adding extra impetus to camp,” he told 4Gamer.
The combat in FFXV isn’t just about pressing a random button once for a action to happen. “Rather, they are a continuous flow of movements.
It’s more about the movements that are associated with the buttons and building upon them for actions through the combat system,” he told Kotaku.
Playing the game will feel ‘very natural. The way a game play has to feel good.”
Talking to 4Gamer, Tabata said that the gameplay is less about focusing on menus and more about playing around and navigating 3D spaces, albeit with predetermined moves, describing it as similar to Final Fantasy XII’s Gambit System.
There aren’t any menu commands in combat. It controls like an action game where players switch between offense and defense to attack or avoid enemies. The only player you can control is Noctis, however you can give orders to other characters, you can pull out the menu screen to give commands, swap weapons, etc.
The weapon system is set in a deck. During battle the deck will choose most appropriate weapon for the battle based on the situation.
The battle will be real time, seamless action. You will be constantly fighting alongside your party members. It is an action battle that emphasizes party teamwork. It is similar to FF Type-0.
Noctis has the ability to teleport around throwing sword and there are conditions that limit how it can be used, although they change depending on combat conditions.
The effects of magic can also affect enemies in more abstract ways, Tabata adds. Fire, for instance, can make enemies run away from the heat. As for enemy encounters, “it’s all seamless.”
Final Fantasy XV will release sometime in 2015/2016 for Xbox One and PS4.
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