Welcome to part IV of Iwata Asks featuring Akitoshi Kawazu from Square Enix. If you’re just finding this, you can start with part I here. We also have a translations page for more translation goodness! Now on with the show.
Iwata Asks – Final Fantasy: The Crystal Bearers
4. Real-Time Final Fantasy
Iwata: Alright, let’s jump into to talking about Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers. When the Wii was first revealed, there was talk about a new FFCC game, but how did development start?
Kawazu: The very first thing I thought was I want to make a single player FFCC.
Iwata: Even though the FFCC games up to this point have had their multiplayer held in high regard…
Kawazu: For multiplayer, we were already making that a reality on the DS and with the Wii being a new home console, we wanted to use the opportunity to make something new.
Iwata: Taking on a new challenge again, eh? Your challenge spirit was getting antsy, wasn’t it? (laughs)
Kawazu: It was. Then I thought, “This is the Wii’s Final Fantasy. If I were to make a Final Fantasy right now, it would be this.” That’s what I wanted to make.
Iwata: With that in mind, were you taken aback when you heard you could swing the controller? (laughs)
Kawazu: If I’m giving you my honest impression, when I first saw the controller I thought, “What the heck should I do with this thing?” (laughs)
Kawazu: Ideas like a fishing game came to mind, but I was wondering what to do beyond that.
Iwata: Because if there’s just fishing, you can’t make an RPG, right? (laughs)
Kawazu: So from there, I instructed my staff to not force the Wii’s features. Just submit ideas that seem interesting. After that, a lot of ideas came up.
Iwata: But at first, you only thought of fishing. (laughs)
Kawazu: Yes (laughing)
Iwata: What kind of ideas came up?
Kawazu: Some examples were pointing at objects and moving them, shaking the Wii remote to make actions occur, and of course, pressing the A button for actions, like usual. From there, we were like, ‘put this in, put that in,’ and we tried making a test version.
Iwata: How was it when you actually tried it?
Kawazu: The Wii remote felt really responsive. Like regular action RPGs, we had stuff happen when you pressed the A button, but I thought leveraging the Wii’s specialties to make that unique would make for an interesting game.
Iwata: But just because you thought that would be the case doesn’t necessarily mean your staff would agree, does it.
Kawazu: That’s exactly right. For this game, the main protagonist is named Layle, but he can use a telekinetic-like power. Quite a few people said it would be fine if those actions were just done with a button, but the more it was said the more I was like, “You can do that in any other game.”
Iwata: It’s boring doing the same thing as other people. That sounds like you.
Kawazu: We were specifically making a new Final Fantasy for the new hardware so I thought it would be a shame to do the same things as other games. That feeling grew stronger and stronger and I thought, “Let’s not use the A button for any actions”
Iwata: You were kind of being a contrarian. (laughs)
Kawazu: Maybe. (laughs) But I thought it was our job to make something that hadnt’t been made before. On top of that, I perceived FFCC as a real-time Final Fantasy.
Kawazu: The game world has its passage of time and the player has their passage of time. I think having these two times perfectly in sync is connected to the fun of the game and the impression it leaves.
Iwata: In other words, the feeling of being in sync with the game is stronger which is connected to the fun and impression the game gives. It’s a sensation you can’t really get in a so-called turn-based RPG.
Kawazu: That’s right. The turn-based system has gaps and time isn’t one to one. I noticed this after being involved with the development of FFCC The Crystal Bearers. Real-time is a word that’s used often, but when you ask, “What is real time?” It’s ultimately the unity of the game’s time and the player’s time. That’s real so it’s real-time. I finally became aware of that.
Iwata: What caused you to realize this?
Kawazu: When you swing the Wii remote, from the start of the swing to the end, it takes a little bit of time.
Iwata: Whereas a button is on and off in an instant.
Kawazu: But when swinging the Wii remote, the sense of time it takes and the sense of time that is shown on the screen are in sync, so I realized there’s a heightened synchronization. During the process of actually making it, I could really feel the sensation of moving my body and having the character be in sync with it.
Iwata: Like games up to this point, you press a button and the character just does the action. You’re saying if you use the Wii remote, the feeling of being one with the character increases?
Kawazu: Yes. I’ve been told the Wii has a physicality aspect to it, but to put it another way, understanding matching the time you feel when you move your body was big discovery.
Iwata: I see. Making games has a phase that’s like spreading out a wrapping cloth. There’s also the folding phase, but when folding, parts that need thrown out are certain to appear. You had that kind of discovery so that throwing away process influenced your vision, right?
Kawazu: That’s right. Let’s raise this tree but cut down all the other trees we don’t need. I felt that, whether it be the motion sensor or the pointing functionality, they could be used well to put the game on a fun course so it would be fine to not have the same type of fun that had already come before.
Iwata: Because you could have that fun in other games?
Iwata: With that being said, wasn’t there pushback from the team? Sorry to ask to bluntly but (laughs)
Kawazu: Yeah… Not just with the controls, but there was pushback against various parts. (laughs) FFCC up to that point had multiplayer and cute characters cutely moving about and that’s the image the development side also had.
Iwata: Characters that were three heads tall before are now six heads tall.
Kawazu: So I would be asked why by the staff.
Iwata: Were they saying things like that’s not FFCC?
Kawazu: Yes. (laughs) But I had to explain that we weren’t aiming for that with this game. The staff really loves FFCC so I understand why they said it. But just because you really love something, with just that, you can’t make anything new.
Iwata: Hardening your heart in order to take on new challenges…
Kawazu: I’m a leader so it’s my job to demonstrate that thinking.
Iwata: It wasn’t that you were rejecting the FFCC that everyone loves, it just wasn’t the direction you were aiming for this time. It was, ‘Let’s thoroughly explore these ideas through making a FFCC game,’ right?
Kawazu: Just like that.
And that’s the fourth page of the discussion. If you’re wanting to study Japanese yourself, you’re in the right place. Maybe try the Zero Experience Beginner’s Guide or Japanese Practice Through Games – a Beginner’s Guide to get started. Be sure to stay tuned for part 5!