Final Fantasy XV: Director Hajime Tabata Speak About The Game - Games Weekly

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Final Fantasy XV: Director Hajime Tabata Speak About The Game

Meet the face of  Final Fantasy XV. Formerly a handheld developer, Hajime Tabata was best known for directing crisis core: Final Fantasy VII and the original version of this month’s Final Fantasy Type-0. Things all changed at e3 2013 when he was revealed to be co-directing Final Fantasy XV alongside kingdom Hearts director Tetsuya nomura. A year later the plates shifted once more, with nomura moving over to kingdom Hearts III full-time and Tabata thrust further into the spotlight by assuming total control of Final Fantasy’s latest mainline series entry.

Now, with both Final Fantasy Type-0 about to enjoy its long-awaited western release and Final Fantasy XV ready to make its public bow in the form of the Episode Duscae demo, OPM catches up with the new king of PlayStation’s best-loved role-playing series to discuss all matters Final Fantasy…

As a director and a developer, what does Final Fantasy mean to you, on a personal level?

hajime Tabata:  I feel that taking on the development of a FF game means to shoulder the responsibility of exceeding the previous games in the series and challenging your abilities to the limit. This is not just a philosophical approach though, and at present Square Enix really is putting all the resources and effort we possibly can into creating this game and setting ourselves the greatest possible challenge to reach the pinnacle of what we are capable. If you compare it to car manufacture then the mindset is not that of making a run of-the-mill commercial vehicle, but of producing a cutting edge F1 machine.

Final Fantasy XV was technically announced prior to PS3’s release. how exciting is it to direct a game of this magnitude, and what expectations do you feel need to be met with the final product?

I was not just taking over direction of what was then Versus XIII, but taking on the mission of developing from a new start as FFXV, so personally I saw it as a hugely exciting new venture. It was just after we did the big reveal at TGS 2014 that I first really felt the reality of the fan expectations towards this game. At that time I was both struck anew by the extent of expectations towards Versus XIII and realised that I would have to pull out all the stops in order to meet those expectations.

How tough is it to inherit a project part-way through its development, and how have you coped with those challenges?

Of course, when compared to a completely new project with a blank slate, there were challenges that I could not have imagined and a number of associated difficulties. There were so many tricky areas to navigate that I had to just knuckle down and trust my judgement to get through them all without deviating from what I felt was the correct course. I was also very grateful for all my colleagues and comrades who shared those difficulties with me and helped me get through them.

How much did the game have to evolve in the transition from Final Fantasy Versus XIII to Final Fantasy XV? what had to change and why?

At the point at which I joined, Versus XIII was going through difficulties in a lot of areas. For that reason I think we can say that FFXV was not just a simple porting over of Versus XIII to PS4, but a completely new endeavour that inherits the spirit of the original project while completely restructuring the team and remaking all of the assets anew.

You also directed FF Type-0, so how pleased are you that Type-0 is finally getting a worldwide release?

I would say that more than anything, the sheer volume of demand for the game from outside of Japan is something that I will never forget. So I am truly overjoyed that we are now gearing up to a global release for the HD remaster version that we could not do for the original PSP game. I also feel that it was very worthwhile that we have been able to have contact with players from around the world through our endeavours on the HD remaster project. It was great fun and a brilliant experience.

What’s it like to remaster a handheld game for PS4 is the work as extensive as building a new game? 

First of all we constructed the basic framework for the remaster version by doing the simple porting work and at the same time preparing the new rendering engine and proceeding to address the mass production of new data assets. Next we added in the fine tuning of the gameplay and visuals. I would say that the biggest difficulty was keeping to the mastering schedule for the FFXV demo, as it overlapped with the overseas media event schedule for Type-0 HD. I can still remember working all day and late into the night at the various locations we visited for media appearances. [Laughs]

Having previously directed PSP titles, what’s it like to be working with the most powerful console ever made in the shape of PS4?  

Well, the amount of money that the company invests in projects for the PS4 is completely different to those for the PSP, so I can certainly feel a difference in the anxiousness from higher management! [Laughs] As a developer I did not actually feel that much of a pull from the PS3 to want to develop games for it, but I certainly feel that from the PS4. It feels like a very big evolution in game design, similar to the shift from 2D to 3D was. I really feel that this challenge to create something that could not be done on any platform other than PS4 can only happen with the latest cutting edge consoles of the current generation.

And finally, what easter eggs and secrets should our readers keep an eye out for when exploring the wilds of Duscae?    

Have they found all the special swords yet? Has a certain powerful foe come back for revenge at a different location yet? Has the man in that one couple got into trouble yet? Go out and look for these and many other surprises…

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