Final Fantasy Type-0/XV: Director Hajime Tabata Speak About The Game

What was the thinking behind putting Type-0 on PS4 rather than Vita?

I get asked this question quite often, so I’ll have to think of a different way to answer it! I wanted to do it on home consoles. There are obviously very logical business reasons why it was decided to do that, but then equally important were the personal and creative reasons for us as developers. I really wanted to challenge myself and do a remaster on a much higher level of hardware rather than just try to recreate the portable experience that would have been very easy on Vita.

Vita is sold as a handheld capable of console-standard games, but do you think that’s what players actually want?

It really does depend on the genre and the type of game involved. If you’re talking about high-level action games, twitch action games with in-depth fighting, then, in some ways, those kinds of things aren’t particularly well-suited to a portable console. The basic information you’re processing with your eyes and the size of the screen aren’t really optimised for that kind of experience, so it may not be what people want. Even if you had the same game running side-by-side on a small portable console screen and one on a large TV screen, even with the same content, the experience you got from the two would be quite different. Even with a great handheld like the Vita, there’s definitely a difference between the types of games that work well on portables and on home console. There has to be a bit of differentiation. That’s something that I came to learn after doing Type-0 that kind of long form RPG is much more suited to home consoles. You get tired of playing them [on handhelds] and in some ways, it can interfere with the experience.

How would you describe the current state of the RPG genre?

That’s a big question! In terms of Western RPGs, it seems almost all are developed for home consoles. Compared to that, the Japanese RPG is a lot more varied a lot of them can be played on smartphones, a number that are designed for handhelds and a couple that offer that big TV experience. There’s a lot more variation.

You have to look at it as different RPGs for different platforms, see the different models in different ways. You can’t just put them all together and say ‘These are all RPGs’. Looking at the kind of RPGs I’m developing at the moment and the kind I find most value in the kind of games I want to make I want to do the kind of RPG that isn’t just a way to waste five minutes here and there, and focus more on deep experiences… meaningful RPG experiences where you have a properly developed world, one that tells a deep story and when you see it to the end, you have a real emotional attachment. That’s the kind of RPG I’m concentrating on. A lot of the Western RPGs you play now are that kind of experience, things like Skyrim. It’s that kind of side that I’m focusing on.

There seems to be a more concerted effort to target a global rather than domestic audience these day. Is this true in your case?

It’s very polarised into two camps. There are a lot of Japanese studios that do aim for a global audience and appeal to a much larger audience than before but on the other hand, there are a lot of Japanese companies and games that really narrow the focus down to just the domestic market and don’t even think about their products leaving Japan. There’s almost nothing in between, in a way. If you look at numbers and who’s going for what kind of audience, there aren’t as many developers in Japan who are aiming for that wide global market those focusing on the domestic market are maybe in the majority at the moment.

Is there anything in Type-0 or XV that is specifically tailored for global appeal?

First of all, we absolutely don’t have the intention of staying only in Japan with Final Fantasy. We really are convinced that there are a lot of players around the world who would respond well to and really enjoy the kinds of experiences we’re trying to do. Final Fantasy is always approached in a very global manner that’s a given. Even now, it’s quite difficult to approach a game from the perspective of aiming at the whole world and making everything in a global way. I’m not sure I even understand what that would entail! You have to assume quite a lot.

What different challenges have you faced between Type-0 and XV?

The biggest difference was very much the difference in hardware. With the new generation of hardware, the facilities there mean you can almost do anything you want to do. If we imagine we want to do a game one way, then the hardware could in theory allow that. It becomes a much different process. We need to think about the time we’ve got, how we spend our resources and what kind of game we really want to make, but there are no factors that mean the game has to go a certain way. In a way it’s harder, because you don’t have anything to hold you back. Compared to that, with development for a lower spec machine like a handheld, you really do have to work within its constraints and adapt and adjust to that. It’s a very different approach and a completely different mental process.

How has XV changed since being originally announced as Versus XIII?

When it was first announced as Versus XIII, I wasn’t on the project at all, so I can’t say a lot about that period! But since I was brought in and made director on the project, one of the biggest changes is that we’ve obviously moved on one generation of hardware. The technical base has completely changed, and that does affect how we think about development and how we approach everything. Moving away from the technical side of it, there’s been quite a change in the expectations of people towards the Final Fantasy series, and in their preconceptions about the games as well. They’re quite different now to when it was first announced.

Do you think that has anything to do with the mixed reception to XIII?

It’s not so much just because of XIII. It’s been more of an ongoing process, really. Each generation of hardware has its own generations of Final Fantasy games, and people’s expectations of the brand changes based on that. And that’s going to change with the PS4 and Xbox One generation as well. It’s not just XIII people’s expectations for Final Fantasy are always changing. There were a lot of people who liked Final Fantasy XIII, and they’re people who will judge future Final Fantasy games based on what they liked in that. But the people who didn’t will be judging based on what they like in previous Final Fantasy games. The attitude towards the game really does change depending on what players expect and hope for. Every single generation produces different people with different expectations, so it’s a delicate thing to deal with.

To what extent will fan feedback to Episode Duscae shape the final game?

We very much want to receive feedback based on the demo and we really do see it as an asset. We’ll be listening to what people have to say about it. We really want quality feedback, rather than just dealing with a large number of people and getting as many opinions as possible without any backing. We want to talk to people who have actually played the demo and there are certainly things in there that they’ll maybe say about the game that we won’t have realised.

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