Interviews with the Final Fantasy XIII development team appear to have yielded some surprising revelations, including the admission that the game’s notoriously linear structure was due in large part to the trouble inherent in designing towns in a “high definition” manner.
The revelations come by way of developer interviews and other information published in Square Enix’s official Final Fantasy XIII production “mook” (magazine/book), Final Fantasy XIII Scenario Ultimania.
Some of the most interesting points are paraphrased below:
The game’s linearity was just because depicting towns and so on like we did before was impossible to do on an “HD” console – it was too much work.
Nomura had hardly anything to do with it; he just did character design and commercials, not even the intro or movies.
The game was designed with DLC in mind but we don’t actually have any planned.
It was easy to port to the Xbox. Porting to the PS3 is harder. The PS3 has more processing power but you have to do it properly.
Jumping was manual at first and you could jump onto the titans.
You used to be able to avoid enemy attacks in the field using the analogue stick, but due to difficulty considerations it was canned.
The battle team came up with the transforming summons. The art team was dead against them.
“I was thinking this time we would make it completely story-centric” – Toriyama.
By now it is clear that the decision to adopt an extremely linear and heavily simplified design is by far the most controversial one made by the developers.
Learning that it was due at least in part to the hassle of designing cities with good graphics suggests Square Enix may be severely out of its depth, particularly considering most world class developers have no trouble designing games with cities aplenty.