Final Fantasy IX "Round Table" Developers Interview: Page
Round Table Discussion
Q: With Final Fantasy IX, several of the tracks were already arranged
with fully orchestral tracks, with future Final Fantasy games like X and
XI do you see yourself going with fully orchestral soundtracks or will
they continue the trend of having a mix of orchestral and synthesized
Uematsu: I've never thought that it was absolutely necessary to have fully orchestrated music for the entire soundtrack, but this trend kind of started when Mr. Sukiyama started to use classical music for Dragon Quest, so I think that it came out around at that time. I'm not really a person who can compose classical music completely so the way that I use the orchestra is kind of rough in some ways, so I don't think it's really important for me to use orchestra for the entire soundtrack. Once it's really possible for us to record live music, we'll likely be able to start using rock bands and other types of music. In fact, I've already been working on that in some other projects right now.
Q: With Final Fantasy IX already a huge success in Japan, do you feel any need for it to be successful in America or any other country outside of Japan? Do you even care how well it does elsewhere?
Uematsu: Of course we're hoping for our success in the States, of course we care about it. Not just the States, but for Europe and we hope that people in Africa can also enjoy it. I believe that there are common values that we can all share. And hopefully that will be borderless and regardless of different people in different countries, we believe that we can share those values.
Minaba: There's also something that I felt in the States when I was involved in some projects. The game industry is still pretty small in scale and still young. And when we were trying to hire some staff in the States, when I was doing some interviews with the applicants, I felt that the movie industry was number one and the game industry was under it. That is what we wish to change.
Uematsu: Games are still considered to be in the sub-culture category, coming under movies, coming under manga or comics or animation, especially in Japan. So, hopefully we'll be able to establish our own position that can be established as a culture.
Even in Japan, I don't think that the game culture is established. So, probably the users are kids in school, even adults, I'm not sure up to which age they are. For example, my father will watch movies but games don't appear in his life at all, I think that that's sad. Even though we can create something really good, our parents wouldn't be able to understand what we do.
Q: Would you say that the same is true with women? It seems that women in the States play far less games than males, is that the same in Japan and does Final Fantasy attract more women gamers than other videogames?
Uematsu: I receive more fan mail from the females.
Aoki: Maybe you only read the fan mail from the females.
Kurosawa: Probably it's about a 50/50 split. I don't think that the percentage of men is extremely higher and that of all games, I think that there are more female users for Final Fantasy.
Q: What are some of the reasons for taking FFIX back to its Nintendo roots? And is that change caused by the fact that many companies have begun copying Final Fantasy?
Kurosawa: Dragon Quest didn't come out as early as expected [group laughter].
In the case of Japan, not many games have been emulating FFVII or VIII, but in this case, the director, Mr. Sakaguchi, wanted to go back to our roots, so we tried that this time.
Q: The character designs in FFIX have returned to more of a cartoony look, what are some of the reasons for doing that?
Minaba: Actually for FFVII and VIII, we did have that comical look and feel. I think that the realistic look came in when the Nintendo came out, but once again, for VII and VIII we did have that comic-like look, but for IX we kept some of that element but also changed some of the characters to give a different balance for it.
Q: But, why?
Uematsu: We wanted it to fit the scenario.
For VII and VIII, the characters are probably more realistic and of course it's easier to get that more realistic feel from realistic characters, but with the technology now, it's still possible to get that realistic sense with comic-like characters.
Q: Do you think that the international audience that is more accustomed to the realistically proportioned characters will have a problem with the change back to more super deformed characters?
Aoki: Going back to the fantasy-like world was probably a bold step by us, but after actually going through the process of creating the game, the characters that are non-realistic actually make you feel more familiar with them after you go through the game. As long as the users can still sympathies with the characters, we believe that this is the case, we feel that it's what's needed.
Minaba: Of course we were very concerned. We were thinking that since the characters in VIII were normal sized, we should make them even taller for FFIX. But, anyway, we did make the change.
Q: Do you have any plans to make games based on the Final Fantasy movie?
Uematsu: We don't have any at this time and it's not very likely.
Q: Are any members of the teams that worked on the Final Fantasy series working on the movie?
Uematsu: Some of the staff that were on the FFIX team moved there, so there might be some input there. But, we haven't had any input on the movie.
Q: What are your opinions of the Active Time Event system in FFIX and was it harder to create event scenarios with that as part of the game?
Kurosawa: When we were creating FFIX, there were two things that we kept in mind. Number one, to make sure that we made a story that was easy to understand. And two, to create some specific personalities for the characters and sub characters and these were the two points we kept in mind when creating the Active Time Event system. With this, it is possible to understand what the sub characters have gone through, making the story and personalities of the characters more easily to relate to.
Q: Is there a reason why there isn't voice acting in the Final Fantasy games? And will there be any in future games?
Aoki: I'm sure that it would be possible to have voice acting in the future, but for the present in FFIX, with the capacity it's impossible. When we think about the capacity needed for the data, it would be the same as the visuals. With DVD, it may be possible.
Once we do have voice, the way that we would develop the game would change because instead of music, we would have sound effects and the voices.
Uematsu: It would be easier for me, and the music staff. Because with voice, we wouldn't have to use the music to create the drama, now the voice and sound effects would create the real-life atmosphere. So it would be a lot easier for the music staff. So, hopefully that will happen soon.
Q: How was the advanced audio power of the PS2 affected the creation of music in FFX and has it changed the way that you compose the music?
Uematsu: In terms of composing music, I don't think that anything is going to change. I just think that we're going to create music that matches the scenes. But with DVD and the 5.1 output, I think that the sound effects will be more realistic. So, instead of the music, sound effects would create more impact.
Q: Will the music still be synthesized or will it be streamed because of the DVDs?
Uematsu: Of course with streaming, it would be possible to use live recorded music, but I'm not really particular about having more live music than the synthesize music. What's more important is to make sure that the flow of the game is not interrupted by the live music. Of course, the quality of the sound would increase with live music, but the time lags to when the music starts would be an unnecessary time lag that the users would have to experience. So, hopefully we won't have to interrupt the flow of the game, as that is what's most important.
Q: From a music and graphics standpoint, what system is the team most excited about making Final Fantasy games for?
Aoki: We would like to know what's inside the Xbox soon.
Uematsu: Whatever hardware or equipment that is selected is what we'll work on. We're pretty flexible, believe it or not.
Minaba: Once we specify the box, then we'll have to decide on
how we'll create the games for it. So, we have to stay flexible.
(Square certainly is flexible; they've
new designed for Nintendo, Super Nintendo, The Wonderswan, the Gameboy,
the Gamecube, the Gameboy Advance, the Playstation, the Playstation 2,
and the Pocketstation...)
Uematsu: Game Boy is something that I would like to make something for. In the past we had Final Fantasy Legends, which was created to complete the game in six to eight hours. It was created like because an average flight from Narita to Hawaii was about six to eight hours. It was very fun to do.
Even though the music was very limited, only three notes, the game was only in black and white and the game was limited, the game was fun. And even though we have the advanced hardware and equipment now and the CG and the sound quality is very good, the people are forgetting about fun, which is what people really need. Of course, it would be better to have high quality music and graphics, but we need to make sure that the users enjoy the game and I think that some of the producers are ignoring that.
Q: The battle system in FFIX reverted back to a more classic style, will we see the same with future FF games?
Kurosawa: We don't know, so we can't make any comments.
Q: Dragon Quest VII is finally out and is selling well, what is your take on this old-fashioned RPG?
Uematsu: Did it come out? [group laughter]
Actually, I was talking about this with Mr. Minaba a moment ago and even though I haven't really played it fully yet, the map and battle jump is very quick and doesn't create any stress for the users and maybe Square could really learn from that.
Minaba: What's amazing about it is that the output would probably be the same with just about any hardware.
Q: It's been rumored that the ending to FFIX was changed at the very last moment, is this true?
Aoki: I think that the concept has remained the same, but we did change the ending seven times.
Q: Some of the tracks in FFIX are remixed tracks of earlier FF themes. Were the remixed tracks your choice or were you told to remix old tracks to give us more nostalgia?
Uematsu: I wanted to remix some of the older songs. Some of the character and location names were the same, so I thought that it would cool to use something from the past series.
Q: Some of Square's other RPGs like Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross have gotten rid of the random encounters and replaced them with monsters that you can see on screen and avoid, why hasn't this been done in the Final Fantasy series and will it be something that's considered for future FF games like Final Fantasy X.
Kurosawa: There were originally designs just like that, but that
of course limits the things. The debate is between how much memory you
use in the map and polygon graphics for monsters, and we decided that
random encounters were more suitable for this game overall. In terms of
the future games, X and XI, I don't really know.
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I of the Final Fantasy 9 Developers' Interview.
Thanks to IGN
for the transcript.