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.

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    Avatar of Tokeijikaku
    Comment by Tokeijikaku
    20:23 30/01/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Yeah too much work you lazy fucking cashins.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:24 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    People who smoke weed can do a lot better than them, honestly.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:49 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well, when it comes to art and similar, weed isn't exactly a handicap...


    Comment by Anonymous
    21:17 30/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The fact that they have to work on FFXIII's Xbox360 port is the reason. Xbox360 already has 4 cds without cities, plus add a couple of cities, free roaming and summons = 6 cds minimum. Basically SquareEnix is trying to be fair. Which is a bad thing.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:30 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    ...You, sir, are a bit of an idiot. The actual in-game data including all scenarios isn't even the size of a dual layer DVD and that's probably with poor optimization. The /majority/, a good 4/5ths of the data, is all FMVs.

    This has nothing to do with the 360 and everything to do with them just wanting money and not caring enough about the end product to warrant the huge time investment.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:24 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The people who did the port would be the programming team. The people who would have done the cities would have been the art team. Two COMPLETELY SEPARATE groups, so it would not have been an issue at all.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:45 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The time they spent porting the game was what took away from both versions.

    Avatar of Geerie
    Comment by Geerie
    20:34 30/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    it's less lazy and more "we have to etch so many tiny details into the walls the player is going to walk past in 3 seconds so that will take about 3 weeks to finish one hallway"

    Avatar of Chen-04
    Comment by Chen-03
    22:18 30/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    They can always return to 8/16-Bit. I'll be waiting. (And meanwhile buying/playing 8/16-Bit games.) Don't know about others but I don't like my games like my movies. Movies for watching, games for playing, yep, This is how I like it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:32 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The SNES FF games all looked great. So what they're not in HD? As long as they're appealing enough, it really doesn't matter, and if simplifying the graphics makes it easier to develop the other, more important aspects of the game, then you're going to end up with a much more enjoyable product.

    Avatar of BlaqCat
    Comment by BlaqCat
    21:14 30/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yea. I honestly love when I hear stuff like that, most times I actually pay more attention to the details when I read about it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:17 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Amen to that. I know I like to ride on Square-Enix for their questionable practices these days, but some of the blame also lies with this progress of technology and massive reliance on graphical power.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:04 08/12/2014 # ! Neutral (0)

    "I think we should be glad for advances in graphical power. Just imagine if there were no progress beyond the PS2. Games would be easier and quicker to develop, and the market would be full of the same kind of games." -anon

    This whole statement is wrong on so many levels that it made me laugh.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:59 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I think we should be glad for advances in graphical power. Just imagine if there were no progress beyond the PS2. Games would be easier and quicker to develop, and the market would be full of the same kind of games.

    Anyway, hasn't SE learnt already about making pretty looking stuff with no substance?

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:44 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    What makes this pathetic though, is that they claims its way too hard, when hundreds of other current gen games have been able to do this.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:31 30/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yeah what a load of bull.

    They just kept giving in to laziness in the end.

    This can't work? oh screw it then.
    That can't work? Oh never mind.

    Oh wait, other than the stuff we cant do, like the main gameplay, everything's pretty much done! I think we should just sell it as a epic story!

    Avatar of Gradius
    Comment by Gradius
    22:35 30/01/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Actually, S.E. sucks completly isn't the company it used to be, and S.E. should just die already.

    The funny thing is how many stupids payed for this SHIT (true shit) and now they are complaning when thanks to it, they could do just a shitty game.

    S.E.: "Who cares? Those fanatics will buy even shit!"

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:12 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Keep in mind that the teams of people working on this game are given very, very strict deadlines along with very massive amounts of work. Its the producers who are to blame when stuff like this happens. They promise x thing by x date and then throw money at the workers and expect the impossible to get done.

    Having said that (because I've worked for similar companies), I have no intention of playing the game.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:59 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I know exactly what you are talking about. I am a programmer and sometimes you just want to pop a cap in the head of the business people.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:21 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    its not strictly true though, SE is a big company with plenty of available staff to work on different tasks, plus plenty of other companies under their umbrella they could outsource from. FFXIII took a very long time to develop, by far enough time to have included these more advanced features, but it just speaks to me of poor use of time.

    Comment by Schrobby
    07:41 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    From interviews about FF XIV:

    Yeah, we used stick figures because drawing actual characters would be too much of a hassle. They move really fluid, don't they?

    The soundtrack is some midi stuff from 1990. It's quite good, why compose something new?

    The background graphics are scanned pictures we got from a kindergarden contest. They are so cute!

    The programming was a lot of work, we had to edit NES code to work on the PS3. Why can't the PS3 be compatible to NES? Making games would be so much easier.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:13 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    They had 5 years to work on this thing...

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:52 01/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    As far as I'm aware, didn't SE sack a bunch of employees during those 5 years?

    Avatar of TehBoringOne
    Comment by TehBoringOne
    08:44 01/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I agree... 5 years of development is HALF a fucking decade. If they churned out this interactive movie that they try to pass as a game, it's not just because of the deadlines imposed by executives, but because of a shoddy direction, lack of agreement among the people in the staff, among many other things.

    If this is the way Square Enix is going to produce games, then I'm never buying one of their titles ever again, until they change their working practices.

    That said, I think that this reception by the people buying, not making reviews, is something good, actually. It should come to show Square Enix and other companies that observe the situation that such things are not well received by the consumers who are forced to pay the full fee for a product such as this.

    I wanted to buy Final Fantasy XIII, not Advent Children 2. I don't care if the story is absolutely epic, the graphics awesome and the music an aural orgasm. In the end, I want to play a game.

    Maybe this is why Nomura says there isn't going to be a FFVII remake... The staff might be unfit to make it... But that's just speculation on my part.

    Avatar of nocturne
    Comment by nocturne
    03:04 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Plenty of people enjoyed Sonic the Hedgehog for the 360/PS3, too.

    It's a godawful game where the inclusion of a royal damsel in distress puts its plot squarely in Mario territory.

    Avatar of A_Moose
    Comment by A_Moose
    00:01 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Protip: It's possible for it to still be a fun game. Plenty of people enjoyed it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:51 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    yeah, just forget there's a controller.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:39 06/06/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Lmao, I couldn't agree with you more. I was anticipating this game from the moment I saw the first commercial, even pre-ordered and everything only to discover that all my favorite elements that made FF FF were all but gone. The story wasn't all that bad, but game play was like have a baby and then a stroke at the same time.

    Avatar of CoreFlood
    Comment by CoreFlood
    03:11 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    wow... you know, as a fellow programmer i can't help but feel shame. This may not be my field (game programming) but all I know is that if I ever had the opportunity to work on something with this much prestige I wouldn't give a fuck how much work it would take, I'd still get it done anyway. The other departments can kiss my ass cause they're going through the ringer anyway whether or not I'm the program manager or just someone lower on the list

    ARGH! really pisses me off how much "trash" nowadays gets their hands on degrees, bachelors, masters, etc so damn easy. I liked it better when the trash was weeded out in the first term of schooling... i miss those days

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:58 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)


    Comment by Anonymous
    06:23 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Pretty much.

    Note that it's "too much work", what I take to imply means that "the execs wanted to observe a schedule that would not allow us to do this and that, and so it was dropped."

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:54 01/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    So what you're saying is that you don't care how great a game is as long as it's fanservice?

    And people wonder why I want to go to game stores and wreck everything inside.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:55 07/03/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    @Anonymous 12:01//01/02/2010 :
    No, we don't think its easy.. Ive worked on several games, and while its hard, its absolutely possible to make a decent game in a year or two.. Now if you factor in that they had 5 years, a shitload of money that they could have used, its hard not to blame them (most likely execs) for doing nothing with the game.. Also : 40minutes of HD animation ? Sure, no problem, if i get a dev team for myself aswell.. It dosnt even have to do shit whith dedication, its a job too, nobody said any of the devs like it (tho i hope they do).. ..
    Remember that it wasn't one person who made all the graphics, but an ENTIRE team of artists! Oh yeah, and 200hours of work for 60hours of gameplay.. Well, 5 years amounts to a lot more than 200 hours ;)They had 5 years for getting their shit together, and in the end we're stuck with something rather disappointing..And regarding "not the only project" Usually game devs work on separate projects, until their part is done,after which they move on to the next one.. Now having played "The Last Remnant" Also from SE, i gotta admit its pretty disappointing game too.. Insane amounts of loads, graphics aren't exactly worthy of a x360, and IMO the game should have been in development 6months more, and released under the ps 2.. :/
    If they cant get their shit together, they will loose every single fan they ever had thanks to the original classic FF games :S

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:01 01/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    geezes u ppl think its so easy to program a game, i mean yes they had time to make the game...but its not like its the only project they had to do. u guys talk of them being lazy asses when u dont even how much determination and patience to create such high def-ness. i bet 80% of u all wouldnt even be able to make a high def 40 minute 3d animation w/o it loosing its quality( meaning laziness cuz if it looses quality its most likely ur laziness) and/or u BSing it and/or u getting tired of it, and thats just the animations... u would still need to do 60+ hours of gameplay..which would take another 200+ hours....along with the pressure of like millions of fans going down ur back to release the game already like they did. besides if u were true fans u really wouldnt care...ppl would be glad that another FF game came out...i kno i would.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:17 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Their programmers probably just couldn't handle it, simple as that. So rather than making "non-HD" towns, they just didn't make any at all. rofl.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:32 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    If I remember well. Didn't Squeenix can/sacked/booted/dismissed/fired/pissed-off a substantial portion of it's workforce?

    Perhaps they first fired some of their many workers, then went to the others: Hey! Make our game now you bunch of asswipes!

    But then realized too late they didn't have enough people to work their...

    No, no, it does sound like laziness. And stupidity. Might be a design choice, but it's a design choice to avoid any hassle that could arise in the goal of making a truly groundbreaking game filled with, I don't know, innovation maybe?

    Hmm... The word innovation coined with a Final Fantasy title... I don't remember having heard that since... Oh, how long ago was it?

    Avatar of TehBoringOne
    Comment by TehBoringOne
    08:46 01/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    More than ten years now...

    Avatar of TheBeast
    Comment by TheBeast
    20:56 30/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    designing towns was too much work for them. running through linear levels with no real goal is too much work for the gamer. they are getting paid for their work. i gotta pay them to do the work... I don't think i'll be paying for their third rate game. try again square.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:03 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    And it's going to sell millions, thanks to FF fanboy fags.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:07 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I know everyone is thinking "Those guys are lazy and still can only do this shit", but I can't agree with the comparation "considering most world class developers have no trouble designing games with cities aplenty."

    We are talking about an RPG (OK, CG Movie), where, each city has lots of people and detail.

    At the PS2 time, we had standard resolution, and so, couldn't get so much detail, that's why all models could be a little "squared", after all, you couldn't really see the details.

    But now we are talking about the Dreaming PS3, with real graphics and super powers, we expect best graphics for the best resolution.

    I believe everyone here know that, RPG's cities are usually full of people, and what would happen to our real graphics if those lots of people were to have so bad quality, because all the town and characters already take most of the processor power, that's high, but not infinite. So, saying doing cities are too much work is already including an all set of variables.

    Most FPS with real grapgics have just a few characters, and the 1st person view limits to much, so you don't even need a model for yourself. And other game's towns just don't need all these realism, or else, they are the same as the FPS configs.

    But whatever, I agree that SE are just shit, that are probably trying to destroy their eternal rival FF just to sell more Dragon Quest. They are making FF with epic stories, but without the most cliche part of almost all the saga. The love story (with exceptions of FF I~III and VI, the latter still had love with secondary characters [only if you were to think as Terra as the sole main char, or Locke would take FF6 away from this exception, as he pairs with Celes]).

    There's still FF Versus XIII and Agito XIII. From the trailer, maybe lots are thinking will be awesome, but I can't think that it's just another good trailer, with shitty gameplay, and Agito, this one, I think may the best one, or should I say, the least worst one, as it's not done for FullHD Graphics.

    But I still think they should foresee that before doing such a shit...

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:06 01/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    You haven't seen FFXIV yet have you?

    It may not be MGS4, KZ2, FFXIII graphics quality, but it look GREAT!!! It has towns, you can explore the world, dungeons, and all that good stuff.

    Sure, FFXIV is a MMORPG and doesn't have voice acting and cut scenes like the main FF games do, but I find it hard to believe that SE can't pull off something like XIV developers have accomplished but at a much smaller scale.

    They put way to much focus on the cinematics in FFXIII, when they should have put more focused on the gameplay. They're suppose to be making a game here, not a movie.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:14 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Back in the days technology never got in the way of quality.

    If dealing with graphics is too complicated they could just lower their standards but make sure that the gameplay, the real meat of the fucking game, is good.

    This is both pathetic and sad. Square is a big company but its clear that even the big guys have trouble filling up all the data and putting the hardware to good use.
    When Sony and Microsoft say that this generation will be longer its because it needs to be longer, otherwise its either wasted hardware that can´t be used or an almost irrelevant upgrade.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:05 01/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I know. I mean, look at FFXIV. It looks great. Surely Square could make worlds like that but at a much smaller scale...

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:13 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    the release time postpone coz they wanna sell ffvii ACC

    they think they would sell more with this tactic?

    SE goes worst from ff-x

    the world map like shit

    you can play more in world map in psx

    Avatar of Skullator
    Comment by Skullator
    13:28 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Lol at bandwagon haters who have probably not even played this game yet.
    FFXIII is more than fine, the best FF release since the ps1 titles imo.
    Why is now suddenly the time to complain about linear gameplay in this series? Why didn't you do it with FFX? That game actually deserved it, this one does not.

    Avatar of David Macphail
    Comment by David Macphail
    01:47 01/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    You couldn't be more wrong. FF X was the best Final Fantasy game ever created. Also, FF X DID have towns, so i don't know why you're using it as a comparison.

    I'm not dissapointed that the gameplay is going to be linear, being linear is what made FF X so great. What bothers me is the reason S - E gave for not including towns - "Too much work.". I've gotta say, if the devs are willing to cut out an aspect of the game just because they're too lazy to put the necessary hours in that doesn't exactly fill me with confidence.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:22 01/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yes, badly-designed towns. I can keep myself in towns in previous FF games, but FFX is the only FF so far that has the most boring, sleep-inducing towns imo. It was just torture walking through them and they hardly serve any uses except as a excuse to give the character's a break.

    But hey... Haters gonna hate anyway. Besides, does XIII even look badly-designed and unenjoyable?

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:13 01/02/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hearing you say that FFX deserves it more then FFXIII obviously tells me that you yourself haven't played FFXIII yet.

    If you've actually played the game, you would realize the linearity in FFXIII is shoved in your face compared to past FF games.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:55 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Title : Final Fantasy XV
    Genre : SLG
    Release : 2016

    a game with epic storyline and awesome graphic

    FFXV Programmer:
    we want to have a battle system, but the design team says impossible to design such things. We're too lazy to code things such as cities, let alone dungeon, but we need 6 years to produce this game.

    FFXV Designer: OMGWFT, we can only create 3d rendering and background with a nice quality only, we're too lazy to design a hell whole of the monsters as well, but we need 6 years to produce this game.

    Avatar of VillainousHanacha
    Comment by VillainousHanacha
    04:47 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hm, so the cat is out of the bag, eh....

    Too hard to make towns?! It's your fucking job to figure out how! That's just a bad work ethic. You're getting payed (by us ultimately) for you to put some effort in what you chose to do with your lives, not to slack off and give us story over everything else (which you admitted yourselves)! That's just a cop out, plain and simple. If you wanted to make and exclusively story driven game, make a goddamned Visual Novel, not an RPG! You're developing in a genre of game where you're expected to have both a good story and well thought out, good gameplay. By focusing on story, Square is just doing half their job, and giving the middle finger to all the rest. This complaint of making towns being too hard is inexcusable on their part as programers and developers. They should hold themselves to a higher standard than this. What happened to being proud of what you work on, and putting a serious effort into what you call your profession!? Jesus Christ..... -_-

    SquareEnix.... you...... you suck for this. You really do.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:57 31/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Isn't square enix like a huge company with lots of capital? And not to mention the fact that final fantasy is their Main title? But it wasn't "too much work" for them to design towns, and make the characters more interactive.

    Wow, that's sad. Considering the fact how much money they made, but sadder that they couldn't make the game more interactive, and invest more money into it because it was "too much work"?? Truly sickening.

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