The Japanese magazine Famitsu published an interview with key development staff of Final Fantasy X to commemorate the game’s 20th anniversary in the 7/29-8/5 2021 issue. Interviewed were producer Kitase Yoshinori, event director Toriyama Motomu, character designer Nomura Tetsuya, and writer Nojima Kazushige.
The interviewer begins by bringing up how development on FFX started with Nojima’s idea of having a “journey” theme, and Nojima says that he was inspired by how travelling back and forth in the previous game he worked on, Final Fantasy VIII, was relatively easy: This resulted in him getting the idea of, conversely, a more “inconvenient” world which would require a real journey. At the time he looked at opinions on the internet a lot, and seeing comments about VII and VIII is what gave drove him to make X something completely different. He soon realized that giving too much weight to other peoples’ opinions results in an inconsistent core, though, and he started caring less about such hearsay after X.
The interviewer next asks about the “water” theme. Kitase says that developers tended to avoid adding water to games because of how difficult it was, but they wanted to give it a try anyway, and Nojima adds that one of the earlier ideas even had Tidus as a hyperbaric welder (underwater plumber) as a reason to make characters get underwater.
As for the oriental aesthetic of the game, Nojima says this was inspired by Okinawa, which he just happened to visit around the time. Tidus’ original Japanese name “Tiida” and “Yuna” were also taken from the Okinawan language; “tiida” meaning “sun”, and “yuna” being both a dialect word meaning “from dawn to dusk”, and also a local Okinawan name for a type of hibiscus flower which is also used in the design of Yuna’s costume. Kitase says that they also felt that giving FFX an oriental aesthetic after the steampunk and sci-fi feel of VII and VIII would give the series more variety.
Next, Nomura is asked about how he designed the characters. He says that up to VIII, he would design the characters first before they decided on how they would be used in the game, but with FFX they came up with the character’s profiles before he started on the designs. However, the profiles did change over time, with the previously mentioned “hyperbaric welder” job being changed. Tidus having overalls is a leftover from that, with his outfit originally being designed to look like a worker’s fatigues: Nomura changed it to be more sporty later.
Kitase says that turning Tidus into an athlete was his idea, and came from how he liked how “a certain sci-fi movie series incorporated sports elements like racing” into it. Sports was an element not much seen in previous FF games, and so he also thought it would be something refreshing, and that making Tidus an athlete would make him stand out amongst the series’ protagonists. He talked to Nojima about it, and Tidus was changed from an underwater plumber into an underwater athlete.
As for Yuna’s design, Nomura says that there was originally a design by FFX art director Naora Yusuke, which gave her a more “tropical” design. Most of the staff working on the game had pictured the “oriental” theme with tropical Asia, but Nomura wanted to give it a more Japanese feel.
Nojima says that Tidus and Yuna’s characters were fleshed out more after Morita Masakazu and Aoki Mayuko were cast as them, with Toriyama elaborating that the two were originally motion actors for FFVIII. FFX was their first attempt at voice acting, and Toriyama says that since the developers were also venturing into new territory, it was less a case of having the cast act out something predetermined, and felt more like working alongside them to create something new. Kitase adds that while the actors have their recordings done separately nowadays, back then it was the standard to have them all working together as a group.
Toriyama was in charge of directing the actors in both motion capture and voice recording sessions. The way Tidus and Yuna spoke, however, was handled by Nojima, who says that they were written based on Morita and Aoki. Yuna in particularly originally spoke in an entire different way, but after hearing Aoki perform her lines, she was changed to have a more formal method of speech.
The interviewer brings up how Nojima mentioned in past interviews that the dialogue in FFX intentionally leaves out self pronouns, but that this was not the case in the English translation. Nojima says that as a result, he rewrote the dialogue to match the English translation in the Japanese release of FFX International. He adds that he also changed all uses of the word “machine” in the original to the English version’s “machina” in International because he found the word to be cool. The Japanese FFX HD Remaster release is based on the original version, and so the only place to see the alternate dialogue is in FFX International for the PS2.
Next, the interviewer brings up how Jecht is a very unique father figure, and asks what inspired him. Nojima says that he is actually not based on anything in particular, and that the design for the character came first, with ideas for his personality coming later based on the design. He also says that he did not have any children back then, and if he did, Jecht might have turned out to be a bit more of a better person.
Nomura is asked if he had any difficulties during the character designing process, and he says that while it wasn’t a difficulty, Auron’s age constantly changing did leave an impression on him. He ended up being confused by what age Auron was supposed to be, which resulted in him looking older than his age. Nojima says that this probably happened because they were too used to having Nomura decide what characters’ ages should be.
The interviewer points out how Auron ended up one of the most popular characters, and Nojima says that while he was originally supposed to be an untalkative type, his position in the story as a guide resulted in him having the second-greatest number of lines of dialogue after Tidus. The interviewer next points out how Auron, at 35, is the same age that Nojima was at the time, and asks if any part of him was based on Nojima. Nojima says that Auron is more of an ideal, something that he would like to become. He also adds that a lot of dialogue in FFX, out of necessity, ends up very explanatory, which is something he regrets.