Welcome to part V of Iwata Asks featuring Akitoshi Kawazu from Square Enix. If you’re just finding this, you can start with part I here. I also have a translations page for more translation goodness! Now on with the show.
Iwata Asks – Final Fantasy: The Crystal Bearers
5. Providing Theme Park-Like Attractions
Iwata: First, you wanted to make a single-player FFCC where the player could enjoy the story. Next, you wanted to make use of the Wii remote’s special features to make a game where players could enjoy the feeling of real-time controls. In addition to that, what things were you considering while making FFCC The Crystal Bearers?
Kawazu: First, we thought about where the Wii would be placed.
Iwata: The Wii is usually placed in the living room, isn’t it.
Kawazu: It is. For example, a highschool student purchases the game. He would play it on the big screen television in the living room, so naturally the rest of the family would see it as well.
Iwata: Like siblings or parents or, in some cases, grandparents would end up seeing the game.
Kawazu: That’s right. And when that happens, suppose you’re playing an RPG that’s come out up to this point. I don’t think the people around you would understand what’s going on.
Iwata: Even when the command menu pops up, to a person that isn’t used to RPGs, it just looks like meaningless words and numbers.
Kawazu: It’s fun for the person playing but… (laughs)
Iwata: But the person watching doesn’t know what’s going on.
Kawazu: For the person watching it’s super boring.
Iwata: To people that haven’t really played games, when meaningless menus are popping up, they’re surly thinking, ‘this has nothing to do me.’
Kawazu: So when the time the player is having fun and the time the person watching is having fun are in sync, I think it’s definitely more exciting.
Iwata: That sounds a lot like what you were saying earlier about one’s movements and seeing them in real-time on the screen. (laughs)
Kawazu: It does (laughing). Having various things in sync is very much connected to the fun and this time we didn’t want to limit it to just the person playing. Originally, everyone, even people that didn’t really have experience playing games, would have a ton of fun when going to the game corners that used to be on the roofs of department stores.
Iwata: Yeah, back when we were kids.
Kawazu: Nowadays it’s probably theme parks (laughs). When you go to that kind of place, you can have fun without reason so for FFCC The Crystal Bearers we put that theme park-like fun in and wanted to show everyone that games nowadays have all sorts of different types of fun.
Iwata: Could you give us some examples of that?
Kawazu: To start, the game opens like watching a Hollywood movie. Then, while watching, you’re suddenly put into a shooting mode.
Iwata: You go from watching this extravagant scene to suddenly participating in the game itself.
Kawazu: That’s right. From there, even people playing for the first time can play by gripping the controller, holding down the B button, and aiming at targets. There’s all kinds of gameplay like that in the game so we called this title an ‘Attraction Adventure.’
Iwata: The genre is attraction adventure. Why did you decide on that name?
Kawazu: The game itself is a playground. It’s like a theme park where you can freely move between the various attractions.
Iwata: In other words, there’s a variety of attractions to enjoy between scenes.
Kawazu: Yeah, like that. On top of that, one of the main characters has a psychokinetic gravitational power which is ‘Attractive Power.’
Iwata: So it holds two meanings.
Kawazu: Yes. Plus, everyone is familiar with the word attraction, so it evokes an image and I think it has fun feeling to it. From the start, the Final Fantasy series, the world and settings included, tend to have a lot of complicated language appear. (laughs)
Iwata: Yeah, so much so that people not familiar with series feel like they can’t keep up. (laughs)
Kawazu: For that reason, we tried to use regular language, even for the genre name. That’s something we kept in mind throughout the game.
Iwata: You did that, not just for the player, but because you were also thinking about the people who would be watching, right?
Kawazu: That’s right. We tried to avoid any, ‘I don’t know what this is!’
Iwata: Did you come up with anything else to get the people watching involved?
Kawazu: One thing we did was put in a news ticker that scrolls across while you’re playing.
Iwata: Like what scrolls across the bottom of news programs?
Kawazu: Yeah. For example, a marathon or long-distance relay is being broadcast. I like those and watch them for a long time, but no matter how you think about it, it’s a boring image.
Kawazu: It’s just people running (laughing)
Iwata: It’s definitely strange that even though marathons are just running, we continue to watch.
Kawazu: So I wondered if television stations had tricks they were using to keep me from getting sick of watching. I received a recording of a broadcast and everyone analyzed it.
Iwata: As expected from someone who graduated from the science department. (laughs) I’m the same way in that I can’t not thoroughly analyze what I don’t know until I understand it. One way or another, I want to know the reason.
Kawazu: (laughing) When we did that, we noticed things like the shot changing every 7 or so seconds so we tried things like forcing shots to change and adding the news ticker.
Iwata: Even during a marathon, information about the athletes and stuff are displayed with that kind of news ticker.
Kawazu: Yeah, but when you put that into a game, the player doesn’t have time to read it. We were being told, ‘I can’t read that at all!’ (laughs)
Iwata: During frantic action isn’t the time for reading those characters.
Kawazu: But instead of the player, it’s more aimed at the person watching who might get bored looking at the screen or tired by looking at all the movement going on. They can look at the information at the bottom of the screen and pass that on to the player. In addition to the news ticker, for example, you enter an area with monsters and are attacked and knocked down. You can immediately jump up and start fighting, but if you stay down, enemies won’t attack you.
Iwata: Like playing dead? (laughs)
Kawazu: Yeah, like that. (laughs) If you stay down like that, monsters have various reactions. Even just looking at the reactions can be fun.
Iwata: From the start, the game was made as a single player title, and since games are often played in the living room, you thought of various ways people watching could participate.
Kawazu: We also considered the design of the main character for that reason.
Iwata: How so?
Kawazu: When someone’s mother glances over at the screen I want them to say, ‘That guy is pretty good looking.’ (laughs)
And that’s the fifth 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 6!