“Creator’s Voice” – The Final Fantasy III Interview


Producer Asano (left) and Executive Producer Tanaka (right).

The release of FFIII Japanese version is just over 2 weeks away and, the Touch DS site today has released a 8 section interview entitled “Creator’s Voice” complete with 6 new FFIII video clips.

Joining Touch DS from Square-Enix in the interview is…

???? (Tomoya Asano), producer of the original FFIII game and also famous for PS2 titles, “Full Metal Alchemist 1~3” and “Grandia X”.

???? (Hiromichi Tanaka), executive producer and director of the original FFIII game, producing the game designs and concept art. He is also famous for FFI~III (FC), Seiken Densetsu 2,3 (SFC), Saga 2 (GB), FFXI etc.

As usual, here is my translation of the whole interview, around 4300 words long. Please provide a link back to this blog if you plan to copy this over somewhere. Cheers.

It appears FFIII will only come with one long opening FMV and that’s it. The rest are all just in-game cutscenes. Shame since I was expecting some more Square-Enix Final Fantasy FMV goodness. I’m sure they could have achieved it however because titles such as Magical Starsign already contain multiple FMVs.

Then again, Tanaka didn’t want to give FFIII too much of an overhaul from the original and since that didn’t have FMVs, cutting into the game with them would probably spoil that nostalgic feeling of the classic. Still, one last long ending FMV would be great :)

And he’s also right about how a lot of the new generation of players prefer graphics. Look at how many bought the PSP for that reason in those “PSP v DS” threads… But er, none of that here, thanks.


Contents

  1. 16? (16 Years)
  2. ???? (The Making)
  3. ???? (Movies)
  4. ?? (Personalities)
  5. Jobs
  6. ???? (Balance)
  7. E3 2006 ?? (Exhibition)
  8. ????? (Message)

16? (16 Years)

The decision for a complete remake and not just a port.

Tanaka
We could have finished making the game much earlier if it was just a port. As you may know, we have tried porting the game to many systems but, due to various problems with things such as ROM storage space, technology and developers, it’s been kept in storage and somehow 16 years has passed and that’s an awful long time.

In the original Famicom version 16 years ago, we could only make use of 3 colours so we had to spend a lot of time working on the graphics but, if we ported over the same 3 coloured graphics now, it would be out of date and also, porting it over in it’s 2D form would mean we have to redraw all of the artwork. Since it was going to take a lot of time anyway, we thought why don’t we remake the game in 3D? I wanted to make use of the DS’ hardware.

How the development of FFIII for the DS began.

Tanaka
The announcement in 2004 at the conference* about how we were going to release FFIII on the DS was what triggered it and it was so sudden. We were like, “We never heard anything about this.” At the time, I was working on FFXI and since we just started work on the online game, I though I wouldn’t have any time to spend on any of FFXI’s development anymore but, it turns out I was the only one who had all the data and plans for the original Famicom game in the entire company. I could have just left it all to someone else to port it over to another system just like how we’ve done before but, it’s been a long 16 years and I just couldn’t leave the game in its slumber. It was at a point where a port wouldn’t do it justice so we couldn’t pass the work to someone else that easily. It wasn’t hard to come to the conclusion that we needed the original FFIII team to work on a remake that both players of the original game and new players would accept. So, while I was working on the development and administration of FFXI, I also worked on this new project at the same time. With Asano as my partner, we were going make the best remake there is.

*FFIII’s remake was announced at the “Nintendo DS Preview!” conference on the 7th October 2004.

Reasons why the game couldn’t receive a remake until now.

Tanaka:
We only barely managed to produce the fast scrolling flying ship scenes on the original Famicom and with the hardware of the new systems, there was no way we could port that part of the game over. Then there was also the scale of the project. Even though it was just a port, there was a lot of work to do and we couldn’t just make little work of it. Moving the 2D maps over alone would have taken a great number of hours. Those were the reasons why couldn’t produce a good remake.

A few years ago, we did try to port it over using the 3D polygon systems in homes at the time but, due to the scale of the project, we couldn’t maintain the number of development staff we needed to complete it. In the end, we had to postpone it unfortunately.

The formation of the staff for this new title.

Tanaka:
We created rough concepts of the game together with the staff who worked on the original title and still remains in the company today; the planners Aoki and myself, FFXI’s art director Aiba and FFXII’s character designer Yoshida. The actual programming was left to the staff at Matrix.
FFIII Illustrations

* ???? (Aoki Kazuhito). A game creator from Square-Enix who was in charge of the monsters in the Famicom version of FFIII. He also worked as a director for FF: Crystal Chronicles on the Game Cube. This time he works as the battle balance supervisor.

* ???? (Uematsu Nobuo). A game musician who is responsible for all the music in the FF series.

*???? (Aiba Ryousuke). A game creator from Square-Enix who is in charge of the art direction this time.

*???? (Yoshida Akihiko). A game creator from Square-Enix who is responsible for the character designs this time.

*Matrix is a game development company who is responsible for the planning and development of computer software.

Asano
Matrix done a good remake of Dragon quest V so we had them join us for this title too.

*????????V: ????? (Dragon Quest V: Tenkuu no Hanayome) was released for the Super Famicon in 1992 and was then remade in 2004.

The pressure in remaking FFIII

Tanaka
All of the attempts at porting FFIII so far have been left in the hands of other people while I worked on other projects and I had always been saying to myself, “If only I could work on it myself.” But this time, it’s been too long since the original so that’ll be part of the pressure. Everyone’s expectations are high and we’re conscious not to make the game bad.

Besides that, we also had to make this game so that those who played the original wouldn’t say, “This isn’t FFIII,” and new players wouldn’t say, “This game is so old, I don’t want to play it”. It was a lot of work trying to reach that target.

Feelings the development staff during production.

Asano
When the original game went on sale, I was in the 3rd, 4th year of primary school and it was the first RPG I ever played. It was also the first RPG I completed so it remains a great memory. The current team members from Matrix we introduced just there are very young people so they have the same enthusiasm we have.

What you had to be most careful about.

Tanaka
I did say earlier on we had to make this game so that players of the original game wouldn’t think of this remake as a completely different title but, if we ported the game as it was, it wouldn’t work during these modern times. There’s a complicated balance between it all. On the other hand, those who played the original game won’t have the same image as what they had back then. Over the 16 years, their image of the game probably has been changed by the latest games and comics. If you show them FFIII now it’s possible they would ask, “Was the game really like that?” That was why Asano was more concerned about the feeling of the game more than I.

Asano:
I really treasure the feeling the game gave me when I played it. Especially when I performed a 16 hit, holding two swords, one in each hand.. That was the strongest memory that remains even now.
16 hits with Dual Wield.



???? (The Making)

The game’s performance on the DS.

Tanaka
When we thought about how we had to make FFIII as a new title for the DS, we were thinking of making full use of the system’s capabilities but, the FFIII game we’re making this time is going to be like the original Famicom version. Extending a one screen game onto two screens was kind of like adding something extra to it. Working to the development team, we went through a lot of trial and error so that it didn’t give that kind of feeling and in the end, we made battles and other scenes were we really wanted to make use of polygons, fixed onto one screen only. Our goal was to concentrate all of the DS’ power onto one screen because we wanted to produce the best images possible.

Asano
We did try to make use of the dual screens, showing a dungeon map and character stats on one screen but, it made it feel too game-like. So to balance that, we decided to stop making use of one screen so that we could make players feel themselves being closed in inside a dungeon or the tension in battles.
Dual Screen Events
Tanaka
The dual screens could be used effectively during event scenes so we decided to include them to add atmosphere. Another thing that we also paid a lot of attention to was the touchscreen. Although RPG characters on the Famicom could only be moved in 8 directions when controlled via the D-pad, it would give us a very limited experience if we weren’t able to walk around freely in this 3D remake. A resolution was to make use of the touchscreen so that the polygon characters can walk around freely 360 degrees. I think it will be a very interesting experience.
360 degrees of freedom.
Why they chose to make the game complete 3D

Tanaka:
There were people who wanted to remake the game in 2D pixels but, 16 years has been too long for me. I know things can be presented well in 2D but, in this modern age, writing out the story details and producing the event scenes with 16 bit characters moving in 90 degrees just doesn’t feel right. It just can’t possibly achieve what a camera moving around 3D polygons can achieve.

When I made the original Famicom version of the game, I don’t think it lacked in the presentation area but, it’s been 16 years so I had to think of a method of presenting the game so that a lot of new players who have never played the original even once, will accept it. A method that would include both the old original content and make it new. In the end, we decided that event scenes directed with a 3D camera was a fundamental factor in answer to the players’ expectations.

About the music this time.

Tanaka:
When we were making the opening demo movie, I wanted Uematsu-san to make a new tune. I was happy when he said to me, “if we’re going to do this then I’ll supervise all the tunes.”

The music this time was performed by the arrangers in the company who have been working with Uematsu-san for a long time but, just like Uematsu-san and I, we were a bit uncertain about how it was going to do. They didn’t want to ruin the original Famicom music too much it seems just like me.

Asano:
Besides the music, the sound effects also left a lasting impression with me. When the map changed it made the sounds, “Toooooo (?) and tooooo (?)”. It wasn’t exactly like that but, that’s as close as I can remember it. I think this had a great effect on those who played the original version at the time. This is what FFIII is about.
360 degrees of freedom.
Tanaka
Even though the artwork has more or less changed, memories of all the sounds remain very strong. Just by listening to the sounds, you’ll know if it’s Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy. If it was Dragon Quest, you would be able to tell from the notes going up and down like “Za-za-za” although I don’t know if you can tell it’s FFIII from the sounds of the map changing. The sounds at the time were programmed by *Nasir in accordance with Uematsu-san.

*Nasir Gebelli was a talented American programmer who was involved in the development of FFI~III. He was also the one who helped make Seiken Densetsu 2.



???? (Movies)

The work involved in recording the opening movie.

Tanaka
Although we made the game itself 3D, their models would get slightly deformed when zooming in or changing the angle. To counter that, we decided to patch up the impressions of the polygonal characters that are imprinted into the players’ minds by showing them a large quantity of images before they play the game. That way, they can visualise the in-game scenes much more easily.

In-game, the presentation looks fairly simplistic in a lot of ways.but, with movies we can compensate for it. With the technology used in movies now, we could once again recreate FFIII’s world view and pass it onto the players. With that goal in mind, we didn’t create movies so that they could just cut into any part of the game suddenly but rather, create one as a standalone piece of work.

Asano
It’s actually the first time we had a movie with the black, white and red mages having 8 body parts. In all the classic FF series none of the characters with *jobs had 8 body parts. I’d like players to pay attention and notice the difference.

*Characters that could change classes when needed such as into a ninja or, karate artist.

The differences between the in-game and movie character models.

Tanaka
If we left them with 8 body parts in-game, you wouldn’t be able to see their facial expressions anymore. We created the in-game models so that they’re somewhere in between the original 2D and the current polygon artwork. Saying that however, it’s impossible to use them to realise the fantasy world.

That is why we created the movie as another piece of material for reference. Also, the simple expressions on the polygon characters used in-game were designed so that they wouldn’t ruin the impression of the 2D era that players have in their minds and, produce much more detailed expressions during the event scenes.

The movies (event scenes) that make utilise the dual screens.

Asano
At first, we only used one screen. But then *Visual Works insisted that they wanted to make use of both screens so we done our best and made it that way.

* The production team at Square-Enix who are responsible for the CG movies and also the ones who done the movie FFVII: Advent Children.

Tanaka
They stressed how it would be a waste not to make use of both screens. Besides that, while we were working with one screen, we showed them the *”Seiken Densetsu DS: Children of Mana” demo movie that took up both screens and that seemed to have excited them.

*The latest title in Square-Enix’s RPG series, “Seiken Densetsu” for the DS, released 2nd March 2006.

Asano
The DS Lite got released when we were in the middle of working on the movies.

Tanaka
Originally, we adjusted the colours to suit the original DS console but, we eventually re-adjusted the colours so that they would appear much better on the DS Lite.



?? (Personalities)

Why the characters were given personalities when they didn’t have any originally.

Tanaka
Well, in the original Famicom version, the characters actually talked quite a lot. Even though we didn’t specifically define what kind of person the main character was like, we just didn’t make them talk just like the main characters in Dragon Quest so it’s different from saying they didn’t have personalities.

Besides, we had no reason to not give the characters personalities. On the other hand, taking into account that this remake will be 3D, we were aiming to be more precise with the directing this time so, with named sub characters such as Desh and Cid, we felt we needed to give the main characters more personality. While in 2D the amount of information given in the events weren’t of much concern, nameless characters without personalities in the much more detailed 3D environments became too much of a weak point.

When we had completed the Famicom version of FFIII, I said to myself that if we were going to remake this game, I want the characters to reflect a little more personality to increase the overall atmospheric effect.

What to watch out for during the event scenes.

Asano
The event scenes that are presented on both screens. Not all of them do but, most of them contain a lot of important information. Something that is only possible on the DS. Then there are also the characters which looked very cute in their job outfits in the original game. I’m glad we managed to keep that cuteness in their 3D presentations. Those little movements of theirs really makes you smile.



JOBS

About the Job Change system

Tanaka
In the original game, we wrapped up the system with a ninja and a sage. Jobs were first available by coming into contact with the crystals and there were 3 different ways of changing jobs. The last two were somewhat added as elite jobs and became the only ones that could be used to complete the game. That was where I contemplated.

While working with FFXI, I had to pay extra attention to the balance between jobs. Under that influence, I wanted to allow players more freedom in changing between jobs. Although you can now change as many times as you wish between the jobs you like, in the original game, there were times when players were forced to change to a certain job. It’s a barrier I wanted to root out. So, thinking about to sort the problem out, we decided to add in *abilities that the original game didn’t have.
360 degrees of freedom.

*Unique powers that each job possesses such as the “Sing” ability of the bard and, the geomancer’s “Terrain” ability.

Asano
It was tough using certain jobs in the original game as some of them could only be used in certain places such as the scholar, geomancer and ranger. We had arranged the game so that you could use them to get to the last crystal.

A world view similar to FFXI.

Asano
I was told that FFIII was similar to FFXI’s world view.

Tanaka
It’s actually the other way round. FFXI is similar to FFIII’s world view. *Ishi was a friend who I worked on FFI~III with, creating a world of swords, magic and one which revolved around crystals. Apart from those 3 titles, Ishi and I haven’t been involved very deeply with the later FF titles but, once we had thought about what FF game we wanted to create at the time and the result was FFXI. That’s why its world view is very similar to FFIII.

*????(Ishii Kouichi) is a game creator in Square-Enix who took part in developing the earlier FF titles. He takes the role of director for FFXI and also worked on the “Seiken Densetsu” series.

Asano
Quite a lot of the monsters that appear in FFIII make an appearance in FFXI. That’s why we got a suggestion about how we could use the polygon data from FFXI.

Tanaka
When were thinking about remaking FFIII in 3D, we thought we could make some use of FFXI’s models but, in the end we just remade everything.

Favourite Jobs

Tanaka
Since I was the one that designed all the jobs in the original game, I don’t want to single out any of them but, in the original game it will have to be the ninja and geomancer of course. In this remake, it will have to be the makenshi (laughs).

Asano
It might sound bad to say this but, I like the jobs that have been patched or strengthened up. We took a lot of care into checking whether they had been improved properly so that’s the reason why I like them in particular. For example, the effect of the bard’s “sing” ability has been increased. Then there were also suggestions saying that the geomancer’s “terrain” ability was too strong so we tweaked that. I’d be really happy if players diverted their attention to such jobs that weren’t used a lot.



???? (Balance)

About the game balances.

Tanaka
All the situations thought to be unreasonable have been more or less toned down. On the other hand, the game itself feels a lot “fatter” and because of that, it has affected our game testing, making us have to work a lot harder.

Asano
You can now teleport (spell) in places where you couldn’t have and use recovery pots. While we tried not to affect how “fat” the game is, I think the game’s a little more easier to play now.

Tanaka
We’ve more or less smoothed out all the rougher parts of the game and redone them all just how we’ve taken all the jobs and balanced them. Aoki has taken all the monster data from the original game and re-adjusted them. I think he may have managed to achieve what he couldn’t back then.

About the save point in the last dungeon.

Asano
You should play it and go see for yourself.



E3 2006 ?? (Exhibition)

The reactions of the players at *E3 2006.

*The games event that took place in Los Angeles from 10th ~ 12th May 2006.

Tanaka
I was sure none of the overseas gamers have seen this game until that event but, everyone already knew about it. That is to say, all those people from the media who came for interviews knew. It seems there were also those who just played the Japanese version while reading a translation script from sites too so… I guess some of them had already actually played the game. It was a surprise to me.

When asked why we didn’t make an English version of the original Famicom game, we have to say that at the time, consumers were moving from one generation of gaming system to the next for the first time, from the Famicom to the Super Famicom. We didn’t know what was going to happen afterwards so we felt that it wasn’t the time to work on a port. We felt we had to hurry with FFIV for the Super Famicom instead. For that reason, FFIII was never released overseas.

However, as for gamers in Japan, I think many have yet had the chance to see an actual playable version of this remake in action so I thought we could give them a little taste of what’s in store.

Asano
After the E3 event, I had a look at some foreign sites and, seeing how popular it was and how people were waiting in high anticipation, I was relieved but, I noticed one point that was being made, “the load times are long.” When we put the game out at the exhibition, we also thought it was long to be honest really. However, those who played the game afterwards have said, “the load times have shortened” so you can be sure improvements have been made to the manufacturer’s version.
360 degrees of freedom.
Tanaka
The E3 demo version was uncompressed and wasn’t optimized. It now loads fairly fast. If you played both the original version and the remake together, I think you’ll notice the difference but it won’t bother you that much.



????? (Message)

About finishing the product.

Tanaka
I had various players of the original game play the remake and everyone of them said, “That’s just it.” As for myself, I can play the game and think to myself, “This was how the game was.” The remake is done so well that it gives the illusion that the original Famicom version should really just have been this 3D version on the DS. I’m confident that players of the original game will say to themselves, “This is it!”

Highlights of the remake.

Tanaka
I think you can highlight the entire game but, in particular the sea effect used when the floating island appears. In the original game, the island was “a world submerged in the sea” but, we have more or less changed the idea and have defined it as “a world where time has stopped.” I’d like players to pay attention to the appearance of the island. I’m sure it’ll be a masterpiece.

Asano
We’ve balanced the jobs so that players can use whichever ones they like in this remake. We’ve added new abilities such as the bard’s “sing,” the warrior’s “rush” and the viking’s “provoke.” Everything has been re-balanced and all jobs can be used to play until the end of the game. We would be happy if players would enjoy the game in their own ways.

Limited Edition of the Nintendo DS Lite, “Crystal Edition”

Tanaka
There were various designs for it such as using Amano-san’s illustrations and lining up polygon models of the characters but in the end, Asano decided that there should be 4 characters with different jobs.

Asano
When it comes to FFIII, people have the idea of character jobs. Originally, there was a suggestion to draw them in pixels but, after the makeover they’ve been through, I thought it was best if we lined up Yoshida-san’s new designs.

To all the players.

Tanaka
When we thought about the hardware that came with the DS, we knew that there is going to be an overwhelming number of new players but, we also thought that it would be great if players, who had been waiting for the original version of FFIII on the Famicom like us, were able to experience the nostalgia of the good old times once again. I sincerely apologise that it took 16 years but, we’ve finally managed to create our ideal remake on the DS. To everyone who have been waiting all this time for it and for those who is just touching FFIII for the first time, please enjoy this title.

Asano
I’m sure this will be an excellent piece of work. I do hope everyone will enjoy it.

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4 Responses

  1. I need this game, cry.

  2. Hey Dudes , thanks for posting and translating

  3. i was hoping there would be an x3 for ps2 that would be a sequal to x2

  4. Wow, thanks for the translation.

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