Advertisement

This article contains major spoilers for Final Fantasy VII Remake and Rebirth

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Ultimania, which was released on 12 April 2024, includes interviews with the developers who worked on the game. Due to the length of the interviews, this article is split into multiple parts.

This is part 3 of the article: Read part 2 here:

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Post-Release Interview (Part 2) – Devs Discuss Side Characters, Dialogue, and Sequel

 

In the second interview, Sato Masanori (world design director), Hamaguchi Naoki (director) and Endo Teruki (battle director) discuss the game design of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.Final Fantasy VII Rebirth - Grasslands

Advertisement

The interview begins with asking what direction they aimed to take the game in, and Hamaguchi says that when looking at the reception for Remake, they found that many players said that they wished they could have explored Midgar more freely. Remake prioritized the story and was thus designed like a roller coaster, with maps and everything else designed to follow a certain structure, but with Rebirth being about chasing Sephiroth across the world, there was less of a clear goal, and they used that to approach the game design and make it so that the player can freely choose how they want to play the game at certain points in the story, differentiating it from Remake.

The interviewer points out that Hamaguchi said in an interview in Remake Ultimania that they were going to consider how to handle the world map later, and how they ended up going with an open world, to which Hamaguchi says that they ultimately ended up being able to realize what they had planned at the start. Having it not that the player can immediately go anywhere, but rather have new areas unlock as they progress until they form a world was something they had expected at the beginning of planning. Though not a true open world, they felt that there was meaning to having the areas interconnected, and put a lot of effort into making that happen. That resulted in development costs, namely in terms of the work burden on the staff and time taken, but made it through in the end.

Hamaguchi also says that Endo, Sato and himself discussed what the size of the world map should be a great deal, as making it larger for no reason would not just inflate development time but also have an adverse effect on the concentration of content in each area. Yet at the same time, the world would still have to be big in order for the player to feel that it is in fact a big, wide world. As such, they experimented in order to have the smallest possible map that feels big. Endo says that he wanted excited anticipation in the world, for players to enjoy themselves simply walking around. As such, he thought that they should first decide on the size of the world, and then figure out how much content should be put in to make it fun before planning the actual content. Endo says that after experimenting, they estimated that 30-40 activities per area would be needed, and then made content with things from the previous game before adding World Intel spots and treasure caches to balance the concentration of activities around the map.

Sato says that whether or not to explore is entirely up to the player, and the game was designed so that the player can clear the main story without ever touching any of the side content; however, that would make their work on the world map meaningless, and so they made the World Intel as a way to give the player a motive to explore, and Hamaguchi adds that the player the choice whether to explore or not also ties in to the concept of Rebirth and how it is differentiated from Remake, and that choices are something they focused on in all sections.

As for how they decided on where the activities should go, Sato says that due to the game’s visual focus on nature, they collaborated with the art staff to consider each spot’s location. For instance, Lifesprings are spots where the lifestream is flowing out, meaning that they exist deep in forests or hidden in mountains and hills far away from where people live, and so they discussed them with the background team many times, and there were many cases where even after the location was decided on they were changed too, for example, be higher up so that the player has to go around a mountain to get to it.

The interviewer asks why only the protorelic quests have a persistent story, and Hamaguchi says that while some of the others, like the Moogle Intel do have stories, they are not very deep, and so they wanted to have at least one type of World Intel that would draw the player in with its characters. They thus went with Gilgamesh, who Hamaguchi says is particularly “catchy” amongst FF characters, and also added episodes for characters who appeared in the previous game. The planning team came up with ideas for each area, such as “Beck’s gang appears in this one,” and Toriyama and the writing team revised and wrote them.

The interviewer says that giving the chocobos different abilities in each area led to variation in the exploration, and Sato says that was what they aimed for. It would get boring if nothing were to change, so they did things like have variation in the Fiend Intel enemy types and missions, or the difficulty of Divine Intel, and they also wanted to have each area leave a strong impression. Therefore, they had chocobos with different abilities in order to give traveling a largely different experience in each area, also making it so that if the player makes good use of the abilities they would be able to reach hidden areas. Additionally, each area is designed to seem simple at first, but then get more complex or have more gimmicks, so that simply traveling by chocobo is itself fun.

Next, the interviewer points out that Side Junon (“Crow’s Nest” in the English version) is a town that does not exist in the original FF7, and asks why it was added. Hamaguchi says that they started designing the Junon area quests wanting to differentiate them from the Grassland area’s. The Grassland quests had the player travel from Kalm to other parts of the area before returning to Kalm, which is standard fo quests, but they wanted to avoid Junon having the same structure, and so they made a quest where accompanying a dog from Under Junon would unlock a new town, and Side Junon was born as a result. The aim behind this was to have the player feel like they are making things happen in the world, such as expanding the world map by doing a quest in this case.

Hamaguchi came up with the base ideas for variation in the quest, thinking that rather than having the people in charge of each area come up with them, having a single person handle it would make it easier to add variation. He also says that having new quests appear in each area in Chapter 12 was done in order to have players feel that the areas are connected: Up till that point, the player had gone through each area one by one, but in Chapter 12 they are all connected by the sea, and the player can experience the entire world map as an open world, and they wanted the new quests to be a reason for the player to go around the world again.

The interviewer notes that many of the minigames are remakes of ones that were in the original FF7, and asks if they ran into any problems remaking them, and Hamaguchi says that the sheer number of minigames meant that it was hard to raise the quality of all of them together. They assigned staff to each minigame, decided on a direction the minigame should go in, and then left the rest to them, but the progress and problems were all different, and trying to get everything together was difficult. He adds that there was almost no staff who were experts in minigames, and that most of the people working on them did so while handling other things.

 

There was one minigame which was cut due to not being particularly interesting: There was a minigame in the original FF7 in which Cloud jumps from a dolphin to get to Junon from Under Junon, and they made the same system in Rebirth, where the player would move Cloud around in order to aim for a specific spot and then call the dolphin with a whistle, but Hamaguchi says it was simply not fun. They tried a version where the player would have to time button presses with the dolphin’s movement as well, but it did not work as a minigame, and in the end they went with the waterskiing-type minigame that is in the final release.

Part 4 of this article is available here:

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Post-Release Interview (Part 4) – Devs Discuss Battles, Enemies and Summons

Advertisement

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here