Motomu Toriyama, the director said to have been the driving force behind Final Fantasy XIII’s notorious linearity, has stated once again that the main reasons for the changes were that he wanted a “story-driven” game and that it was too much trouble to make “not truly important” elements like towns in HD; he does however promise that towns and traditional RPG elements will be returning in future titles.
“In the previous Final Fantasy games on non-high definition consoles, we were able to kind of take everyone’s ideas and include them in the games.
I call it a bento box system, where you have all of the different little things in there. So we had minigames or towns were you were able to talk to all of the townspeople. But with the HD console you’re not really able to do that because it takes so long to develop.”
Odd that Bioware and others seem to have managed what Square Enix claims is impossible even with some of the highest budgets in the industry.
“If you think about how long it’s already taken to develop this game, to have to have included all of those other aspects, it would have been too long.
So what we did instead was define what was truly important to the game, and include those aspects and really emphasize those items we wanted to include.
We had to consider the amount of time it took to create the game engine, which we built from scratch, as well, and so with that additional time included we had to decide what we could and couldn’t do.”
Asked directly if it might not have been better to pursue towns rather than cut them completely, Toriyama is dismissive:
“You can wait longer for the game where we can improve those elements!”
He also admits he personally made the design decision to strip out the traditional RPG elements:
“Personally, the Final Fantasy games that I have worked on have been very story-driven, so in terms of the development I wanted to, of course, use my personal strengths which where those.”
He does however seem chastened enough to promise their re-inclusion in future titles:
“The next title that we will create will have those elements, and the improvements to those elements that you were mentioning.”