So, what were we doing again?


Oh yeah, that's right. We were making a video game.

Final Fantasy XIII didn’t exactly set anyone’s world on fire (including mine).  It was the series’ first foray into HD, and one of Square Enix’s most ambitious titles.  FFXIII  was also linear in the worst sense of the word.  It was criticized for dumping many of the series in favor of something more along the lines of Call of Duty.  Final Fantasy games are famously known to create entirely new worlds and characters for each iteration, ranging from knights, to magical rebellions, student academies, gangs of thieves, and environmental freedom fights.  But XIII’s world, for all it’s killing tubes, was without direction or momentum.

Tim Rogers makes a point in his review of the game to note that when Square Enix claimed that they had discarded a great deal of content, and that was definitely not a good thing.

A recent story on Kotaku.com supports our hypothesis. You don’t have to click: we’ll explain it. A producer of Final Fantasy XIII explains that there was “enough discarded content” from Final Fantasy XIII to make a whole other game. The “content” in question is mainly levels — game-play areas. That’s a real, huge red flag, right there.

Seeing as most of the levels in the finished game lack any kind of sense of common sense, or even one-word-summaryable background art gimmicks, we can surmise that the artists themselves were in charge of thinking of the “themes” for the backgrounds, and then actualizing them via a series of rough drafts and object asset requests.

In short: they had no idea what the game was about.

Now all the dirt is being let out about XIII’s conception in the most recent issue of Game Developer Magazine.

When development started on Final Fantasy XIII its gameplay, scenario, and technical specs were only vaguely defined. But this didn’t stop the team from motoring ahead anyway, creating assets at an ever increasing pace with no clear sense as to whether they would even be usable in the game. It wasn’t until the team was obligated to create a playable demo for the Japanese market that the title’s ultimate design came into focus.

In essence, it sounds like Final Fantasy XIII was vaporware (much like Final Fantasy XIII: Versus, and Agito are right now) up until the last possible minute.   Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the idea of a demo was to pitch a ready concept to your potential audience, not to come up with an idea in the first place.  If even the developers don’t have a cohesive vision of the game they’re making, how can the audience possibly have a cohesive experience while playing it? In light of the postmortem, it’s no wonder that the president of Square Enix stated that XIII might be the last “true” Final Fantasy.  That would probably be for the best.

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