Final Fantasy IX "Round Table" Developers Interview: Page
This interview originally took place in September of 2001.
Nobuo Uematsu, composer
Q: How many tracks did you create for Final Fantasy IX?
A: Around 160, but about 20 of them weren't used, so there should be about 140 in the game.
Q: Where did you get the ideas -- did you have anything particular in mind?
A: I didn't try to pattern the songs after any particular piece of
music. Like many composers, most of my compositions are influenced by
the music I've listened to throughout my life. Originally, I was shooting
for subtle, classical-sounding tunes that fit the general setting and
feel of the game, but I figured sticking to just one genre would be boring,
so I tried to mix everything up.
(Final Fantasy familar, Nobuo Uematsu,
delivers another classic OST. Click the image to head over to the MIDI
section of FFShrine...)
Q: Do you have a favorite?
A: "Melodies of Life."
Q: In what kind of atmosphere did you create your music for FFIX?
A: All I need is a piano.
Q: Do you work on the music at the same time the game is created, or do you come at the end of the creation, watch the game, and create music that the game inspires?
A: It's sort of like playing catch -- it can go both ways. I create music that fits the events in the game, but sometimes, the event designer will adjust a game event to fit the music I've already written.
Hideo Minaba, art director
Q: What graphics were you directly responsible for?
A: Other than my work as a director on FFIX, I did some key visuals to establish the "world structure" and I did some preliminary drawings of main backgrounds (Alexandria from a distance, the Iifa Tree, etc.), character designs (the Tantalus, etc.), and I put some finishing touches on some backgrounds (the Evil Forest, etc.) and the like.
Q: Unlike the modern feel of VII and VIII, Final Fantasy IX returns completely to the fantasy genre...
A: This soon becomes obvious when you play the game, but the themes in the game are ones that fully apply to modern society as well, so the game can't be called strict fantasy. I assume you are referring to the game visuals, which are much more fantasy-oriented than other recent Final Fantasy games. As this is the last single-digit Final Fantasy, we wanted to give the feeling of a series watershed, a sort of grand collection of what has come before. Also, since the black mage known as Vivi is a key character in Final Fantasy IX, part of the world design was centered on him. These two things had a great influence on Final Fantasy IX's world design. To put it another way, if we kept showing the same futuristic images in Final Fantasy VII, and VIII, and the Final Fantasy Movie, I think people would get tired of seeing the same old thing again and again...at least that's something I was a little concerned about.
Hiroyuki Itou, Director
Q: What is the main change from FFVIII to FFIX?
A: The world. While FFVII and FFVIII have somewhat of a futuristic setting, FFIX has a more medieval setting.
Q: The Final Fantasy series is obviously hugely popular in Japan. What is it about the series that you think makes it so popular?
A: Since many players from different backgrounds play the FF series, we've tried to incorporate various perspectives and values to which they can relate. And above all, we believe in keeping the games fun, no matter how much the technology in the industry improves.
Q: Why do you think people get so engrossed in the characters in Final Fantasy?
A: Maybe because the FF characters are fairly easy to relate to, whether the players love them or hate them.
Q: In what ways did you try and improve FFIX over previous titles in the series?
A: I don't know specifically. We, along with the players, weren't satisfied with some of the elements in the previous FFs. We did some research using media resources. I believe the issues that many people have brought up were addressed in FFIX.
Q: Why isn't it a PS2 game?
A: Well, you can play it on the PS2, too. As Square has released numerous titles for the PlayStation, we've grasped a solid know-how for developing on the console, and FFIX just happened to become the last title we made. I believe it is a worthy title for our final PS title.
Q: What have been your biggest influences when working on the FF adventures?
A: Although the FF series has evolved over the years, it is still an
RPG. Since the FF series tends to be story-driven, I wanted to balance
the story with the traditional gameplay of an RPG.
(Vivi, one of the lead characters, certainly
seems to have the most obvious influences from past Final Fantasy games...)
Q: What makes the FF series significantly different from other RPGs?
A: Before we knew it, it became one of the biggest titles in the industry. The FF titles have been a wonderful success, but we have continued to take up new challenges to add new elements to the series.
Q: In what ways does the plot change from the original premise during development? Any examples of this happening?
A: There tend to be many changes. Basically, we try to keep what's good.
Q: Where does the series go from here? What do you hope to do with the next-generation machines?
A: I would like to try a lot of different things. I guess the only way I can answer this is with our next title.
Q: The FF series has managed to be one of the most recognizable in videogame history, although every part presents the players with new characters and worlds. What are the elements that hold the series together, in your opinion?
A: We took elements from the original FF to FFVIII to make FFIX. Therefore, although we introduce new characters and new worlds in each title, there are some embedded similarities throughout the series.
Q: You must receive an incredible amount of feedback from FF fans. Did you incorporate some of that feedback into FFIX?
A: Yes, we did. Feedback from our fans is incorporated into our title.
Q: Do you ever have ideas that you'd like to implement in FF, but are restricted by the huge success of the series and the expectations of the fans?
A: I entered some ideas this time!
Q: There always seems to be a progression toward more active battles, how do you envisage RPG battles happening in the future?
A: This is a difficult question. If you come up with an interesting idea, please tell me. Thank you.
Q: How does having split development sites in Hawaii and Japan affect the outcome of a game?
A: Many of our FFIX staff members come from overseas. Many of them have worked actively in Hollywood. Square has gained a major advantage from working with these highly skilled individuals. Since it would be somewhat difficult for our overseas members to work in Japan, Hawaii was the ideal place for the team to work together.
Q: Final Fantasy IX was being developed at the end of the development of Final Fantasy VIII. Does this mean you naturally get some thematic crossover?
A: That was not our intention.
Q: What is it that inspires you about Norse and Northern European mythology? Odin, the Knights of the Round Table...
A: We're attracted to European history and mythology because of its depth and its drama.
Q: Is there an underlying concept behind combining items like a sword and a gun to create something new? Is it something you see happening now, or in the future, through technology?
A: That's classified.
Q: What would you say to someone who's never played a Final Fantasy game to convince them that they need to get FFIX?
A: Final Fantasy is one of the most entertaining games in the industry, and many years down the road, I'm sure it'll still be celebrated as one of the best series ever.
Q: What have you added this time around that you're particularly proud of?
A: We didn't compromise too much; we included many of the elements that we wanted.
Q: Final Fantasy games have never included spoken dialogue. How do you feel about spoken dialogue now that more and more games make use of it?
A: When we feel that we need it, I'm sure we'll incorporate it.
Q: FFIX's storyline deals with a lot of emotions and even philosophical questions. Did you have a lot of discussions in the team on how to present these topics?
A: We got together a lot to discuss the characters. But as things progressed, we were able to sort of tell what was on each other's mind, and everything came together. I guess that's what you call teamwork.
Q: FFIX is said to be the last completely "off-line" FF. Do you think people will miss the single-player experience if the FF series shifts to completely online play?
A: If you find the online play to be disappointing, please tell us,
so that we can think things over. I'm sure we'll discover many things
from developing and seeing online games
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II of the Final Fantasy 9 Developers' Interview..