Weekly Famitsu Feature: FFVII Development Notes

#1
HOW IN THE WORLD DID WE MISS THIS?!

This is from two months ago. Somebody needs to get this Famitsu magazine. NOW.

Looks like we could get hold of previously unseen sketches, at the very least.

EDIT: If anybody can help me order multiple copies of this magazine, I'd be very happy.

*UPDATE: koolaidman found a link to scans of said Famitsu magazine with key-point translations!

In the publication Square’s Tetsuya Nomura, Yoshinori Kitase and Kazushige Nojima all look back on the development on Final Fantasy 7 and share interesting details about one of the most popular role-playing ever released.

-Former Square employee Hironobu Sakuguchi decided to use super deformed characters in cutscenes, and normal scale characters in the battle scenes; the Materia system was also his idea

-Tetsuya Nomura designed the Limit Breaks system.

- Tifa was added later in the game

-Aerith & Sephiroth were originally brother and sister, then lovers

- Aerith’s death was Tetsuya Nomura idea

-Cloud’s hair style was originally slicked back to reduce polygon counts

- Aerith’s dress was also designed to reduce polygon counts.

Translation courtesy of Andrisang
 
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#2
Went ahead now and ordered a copy of the magazine via Play-Asia. Unfortunately it refused to let me order multiple copies. >__<

At least I hope that's the correct magazine, lol :monster:

Edit: This has been very weird. First it tells me I'm only allowed to buy two copies. Then it only allows one. Then immediately after I made the order the magazine becomes out of stock. So far the messages from Play-Asia are not implying that I was too late, so let's hope I was lucky to get the final copy.
According to my item order email the magazine was in stock when I ordered it.
 
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Makoeyes987

Listen closely, there is meaning in my words.
AKA
Smooth Criminal
#4
...Are you serious?

At least four of those we knew from the Ultimania Omega's piece on FFVII's development.

....And that Kotaku article is literally the same shit we posted two years ago, regarding Yuffie. That's not new info at all.

I'm curious as to what these unseen design sketches are though. One has to wonder just how many there are that are hidden at this point.

But umm...yeah. Apparently Famitsu and/or S-E forgot what they've released to the public regarding FFVII? Because..this is not really that new or unknown at all. That stuff had been released back when AC was first released and the FFVII Ultimania Omega was printed.
 
#6
I wouldn't be surprised either way, if they forgot they released this info or just said "Meh, we'll just tell the same story again maybe they won't mind". Either way it's nothing that upsets me.

I'm curious as to what these unseen design sketches are though. One has to wonder just how many there are that are hidden at this point.
I wonder if there are keypoints about the making of the scenes the translator left out though. I wouldn't be surprised if this Andrisang only translated story/character-design details and decided not to bother with the rest.
 

Ryushikaze

Deus Admiral Parsimonious, PHD, DDS, MD, JD, OBE
AKA
Tim, Ryu
#7
In the publication Square’s Tetsuya Nomura, Yoshinori Kitase and Kazushige Nojima all look back on the development on Final Fantasy 7 and share interesting details about one of the most popular role-playing ever released.

-Former Square employee Hironobu Sakuguchi decided to use super deformed characters in cutscenes, and normal scale characters in the battle scenes; the Materia system was also his idea
So he's to blame for the Megaflop in the Crater FMV, got it.

-Tetsuya Nomura designed the Limit Breaks system.
I wonder if he had input about the similar system for FF6.

- Tifa was added later in the game
Knew that already.

-Aerith & Sephiroth were originally brother and sister, then lovers
Knew that already.

- Aerith’s death was Tetsuya Nomura idea
Knew that already, revealed at same time as 'Tifa added later.'

-Cloud’s hair style was originally slicked back to reduce polygon counts
Knew that already, though not the reason.

- Aerith’s dress was also designed to reduce polygon counts.
It certainly does save on the used Polygons. It's kind four or five fuzzy blobs in the final field model, and even the battle model is pretty low count.

Translation courtesy of Andrisang
 

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
#10
Went ahead now and ordered a copy of the magazine via Play-Asia. Unfortunately it refused to let me order multiple copies. >__<

At least I hope that's the correct magazine, lol :monster:

Edit: This has been very weird. First it tells me I'm only allowed to buy two copies. Then it only allows one. Then immediately after I made the order the magazine becomes out of stock. So far the messages from Play-Asia are not implying that I was too late, so let's hope I was lucky to get the final copy.
According to my item order email the magazine was in stock when I ordered it.
That's not the one you want anyway. This is the one you're looking for (2012 5/31, issue no. 1224):
http://www.famitsu.com/news/201205/17014726.html

http://www.amazon.co.jp/週刊ファミ通-2012年-5-31号-エンターブレイン/dp/B0084LSK0E/ref=pd_sim_b_7

edit; play-asia is out of it too:
http://www.play-asia.com/Weekly_Famitsu_No._1224_2012_0531/paOS-13-49-en-70-4qa5.html

If I had 250 yen in my iTunes account, there is a digital version of it through an app. Incidentally, I have 115 yen in my account so no u.

According to the contents page on the sample for this issue, the FFVII section is 12 pages long in all.
 
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Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
#11
Can I suggest trying this magazine app thing to get stuff for the site? (If magazine translations are still to be something that's on going, which might not be completely feasible or warranted given the lack of FFVII stuff lately.)

For 1500¥ you could get 6 Weekly Famitsu issues at 250¥ each. Buying a Japanese iTunes card online would mean the money would be ready to spend within an hour most of the time. Plus there is no waiting around fit it to ship and be delivered to someone. I don't know if there is a more elegant way to get images that screen caps but as long as the text is readable that should be adequate.

(Given the lack of FFVII news it could be spent on other stuff for different games as well. FF or non FF?)
 
#12
Can I suggest trying this magazine app thing to get stuff for the site?
"Apps" only apply to cell phones, right? I don't have a modern enough cell phone.

(If magazine translations are still to be something that's on going, which might not be completely feasible or warranted given the lack of FFVII stuff lately.)
Since I'm going to be collecting magazines from the earliest days of FFVII, not just for translations but also for collecting pre-release footage, this is perfectly feasible as material for TLS.
 

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
#13
I don't know about the Android app and if they work on tablets, but the iOS app will work on iPads.

The next/current? Weekly Famitsu has a 25th anniversary feature on Metal Gear, for example. What's the view on things like that which, unlike SaGa Frontier or the like, isn't made by Square? As an occasional feature rather than something regular.
 
#14
I don't know about the Android app and if they work on tablets, but the iOS app will work on iPads.

The next/current? Weekly Famitsu has a 25th anniversary feature on Metal Gear, for example. What's the view on things like that which, unlike SaGa Frontier or the like, isn't made by Square? As an occasional feature rather than something regular.
The way that I've written the Site Goals and how the coming site redesign is structured, our non-FFVII focus is "Translations of Guide Books released by Square". So if I am to have my say, focus should be on translating the Ultimanias of other FFs along with Kingdom Hearts, Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Legend of Mana etc what have you.

Note: Translations of art books like the Kusanagi series also works, even though they are not guide books. It all falls under the cateogory "Book Translations" which will be linked to on the front page.
 
#16
then i will have to make my own site with blackjack and hookers and metal gear translations
If the majority of TLS wants to publish Metal Gear translations, then there's obviously nothing I can do. I may be Content Manager but I'm not a dictator. So if you *really* want to get those Metal Gear translations online here then I suggest you take it up in a separate thread.

But just know that if you decide to create your own website then TLS will make sure to advertise it, due to your long history of providing translations for TheLifestream. =)
 

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
#18
Reading through it now for stuff of interest:

- there are couple of bits where they talk about the early material for the game which are new, if only minor details
- a couple of new images from the concept stages
- comments from other people in the instrutry on how FFVII influenced them, although they are the biggest of names (guy who makes Super Robot Taisen, one who made a game called Soul Trigger, and the man who works on Ultimanias)

Not gone through the interview yet. But the rest of the first part is basically just recapping and summarising the game.
 

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
#19
Read the interviews, which were interesting for what they said about the development. As far as notable updates go, the three and a half interviews (Kitase, Nomura, Nojima, and two anonymous PR staff), creator comments and the extra bits of early scenarios.

I have some enlarged versions of the storyboards that will need uploading.
 

Makoeyes987

Listen closely, there is meaning in my words.
AKA
Smooth Criminal
#20
Ohhhh wow. Now *that's* very interesting. Seeing storyboards of events of the game would be very awesome! Thanks again, so much!
 

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
#21
You can see them in the scans, they aren't massively shocking or different :monster: they are rather minor, like the storyboard for the scene where Sephiroth walks through the fire or Tifa jumping from the mako cannon. It's more little things that add up to a deeper look at how FFVII got started.
 

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
#22
Kitase's interview:

IT BEGAN ON THE SNES

&#8212;First off, can you tell us how the development of &#8220;FFVII&#8221; came about?

Kitase: After development on &#8220;FFVI&#8221; ended, we started the &#8220;FFVII&#8221; project on the SNES. All of the team put forth ideas for the characters and game systems, but during that time we needed to help out &#8220;Chrono Trigger&#8221; team who at the time had run into trouble, so for a time development of &#8220;FFVII&#8221; was put on hold.

&#8212;Was the &#8220;FFVII&#8221; being developed then different from the finished one?

Kitase: Yeah. It was completely different, and Nomura (*1) had proposed things like a design for a witch. In the end, when development started up again it changed to the current setting centred on mako and the like, but the design for the witch Nomura made was incorporated into &#8220;FFVII&#8221; in Edea.

&#8212;I see. So then, when the development began again, it become the world we have now which has a strong sci-fi feel.

Kitase: At the time there were a lot of Western-fantasy RPGs around, so we wanted to set it apart, and we wanted to achieve more realist ways of showing the story. Also, Mr. Sakaguchi (*2) had suggested a modern drama-esque story with a strong sci-fi feel.

&#8212;Had you decided on making it an RPG using 3D polygons at that point?

Kitase: When development had restarted, talk of a next generation console was already in full swing. Since the next generation hardware was said to have a chip that excelled at 3D graphics, we also made a 3D battle demo movie based on &#8220;FFVI&#8221; and studied using 3D. Soon the idea came up that movies would be indispensible to the evolution of &#8220;FF&#8221; and we decided to development for the PlayStation, which utilised CD-ROM that had a large storage capacity.

&#8220;ALONE IN THE DARK&#8221;

&#8212;Was the decision to make &#8220;FFVII&#8221; in 3D a unanimous one?

Kitase: There were two directions the development of &#8220;FFVII&#8221; could have taken. One was to put pixel characters on 3D maps, like &#8220;Dragon Quest VII&#8221; and &#8220;Xenogears&#8221; would later use. And the other was the method used in &#8220;FFVII&#8221; where the characters are rendered using polygons. The pixel characters used in the story scenes in previous &#8220;FF&#8221; games were extremely popular, so at first we were considering the former which is an extension of that method. But as we couldn't made a realistic drama in that way, and with polygon characters we could use the movement of their entire bodies to express things, we went for the later to look for new possibilities.

&#8212;Was there no resistance from the team?

Kitase: There was at first. Particularly, with the loss of the pixel graphics, the designer team such as Naora (*3) seemed to have felt that was a risk. But in their own ways, everyone went to the CG training sessions and such and learnt to handle it. The people who had been there since the old days are those who had overcome that sort of times of change. In a sense, that was really the turning point for the development.

&#8212;Were there any titles that served as a reference when making a 3D RPG?

Kitase: A foreign game called &#8220;Alone In The Dark&#8221; was an inspiration. The backgrounds were single images done in CG, and when the polygon character moved along them, the camera would switch and the viewpoint would change. That method was new. &#8220;Alone In The Dark&#8221; was an adventure game, and its story was set in a mansion, but I thought that by taking this and using in it in RPG with vast field maps, it could be something different and new, so I went around showing this game to all the staff.

MOVIE SCENES YOU CAN CONTROL

&#8212;In &#8220;FFVII&#8221; one of its unique features was being able to control characters during the movies.

Kitase: What I wanted to do most of all in &#8220;FFVII&#8221; was to seamlessly join the movies and the game parts. We wanted to avoid there feeling like there was a massive gap in the graphics when moving from the movies to the playable parts, and Mr. Sakaguchi also said to not make it feel like the movies stick out. So we did some tests and made the part in the opening where the camera zooms in from a shot of all of Midgar to Cloud jumping off the train. I was in charge of the composition of that part, we used a method where as it moved from the movie to a CG image, the characters were positioned so they didn't move out of place, and we refined it numerous times to get it to sync up nicely. When it went well without moving out of place, it felt brilliant. By the way, the kind of showy events like the scene where Tifa jumps off the Junon cannon, I was mostly responsible for those (laughs).

&#8212;Do you think scenes you can control during movies not being in other games was down to Square's high level of technical skills at that time?

Kitase: No, rather than technical skill, I think it was more the inventiveness to want to do those kind of things. We wanted to take what &#8220;Alone In The Dark&#8221; did, having polygon characters on top of a CG background, and take it one step further. And because this was our first 3D game, we didn't know the limits so we could have reckless ideas. We commissioned an outside CG company for the movie scenes, but when the trial version was completed, we would say &#8220;the story's changed so we'd like to extend the movie scene by about 30 seconds&#8221; which really surprised them. Since at that time even just extending a movie by a few seconds costed 10 million yen. We made these unreasonable orders without knowing that. In the end we made do with a few revisions, but we gradually learnt that you can't get retakes as easy as you could with games (wry smile).

&#8212;(Laughs) Did Mr. Sakaguchi give any orders for other parts?

Kitase: I think Mr. Sakaguchi wanted to follow the tradition of the pixel graphics, and to show the characters' expressions on the field screens, so he paid attention to the size of the heads. In battles you can zoom in the camera, but since the field screens are a single background image, you can't do that. As a result, the proportion of the characters are different in battle and on the field. But when we looked at it after &#8220;FFVII&#8221; was released, we thought &#8220;people are probably going to feel something is off with the difference in proportion&#8221; and so in &#8220;FFVIII&#8221; we the proportions on the field and battle scenes the same.

A SCENARIO WITH A HINT OF MYSTERY

&#8212;How was the story, which was distinct from the RPGs that had come before it, created?

Kitase: Before &#8220;FFVI&#8221; we had Mr. Sakaguchi's plots, and based on that each of the staff would throw in their ideas and flesh it out, but with &#8220;FFVII&#8221; we could express things more realistically, so we couldn't take a mishmash of all the separate episodes the staff had made up and make a single coherent game. That's where Mr. Nojima (*4), who was one of the new staff members, came in. He had written an RPG scenario with mystery elements for &#8220;Glory of Heracles III: Silence of the Gods&#8221; on the SNES, so to make it a surprising story like that we left the scenario to Mr. Nojima and he incorporated the elements everyone wanted to do.

&#8212;Things such as Cloud's true identity were certainly surprising.

Kitase: For Cloud's identity, we only vaguely had an image of Cloud's own existence being up in the air and it ending there, but the actual unfolding of events was left in Nojima's hands. And he made not only the scenario but the actual event scenes as well, and the parts where all the mysteries get made clear like Nibelheim in the past were all in Nojima's head so he hadn't written it down in detail in the scenario. So we were doing the test play with no idea how it was going to end, and that's how we first found out what happens. In particular Zack was made like that as well, he was a character Nojima brought in while he was building up the mystery, so we had no clue that he was that important a character (laughs).

&#8212;That's surprising (laughs). Did Mr. Sakaguchi have any directions for the story, having written the plot?

Kitase: Mr. Sakaguchi had been deeply involved with the story up to &#8220;FFVI&#8221; but with &#8220;FFVII&#8221; he focused his efforts on the battles. It was Mr. Sakaguchi who suggested the materia system. At first materia had the name &#8220;spheres&#8221; which Nomura proposed, but Sakaguchi thought we should make it something that would resonate easily even with elementary school kids, so we went for 'materia'. Back then, the staff were trying to come up with some cool name, but Sakaguchi said that in order to get it embraced across the board you can't just think about what's cool.

DEVELOPMENT BRIMMING WITH ENTHUSIASM

&#8212;Was the wide variety of mini-games something you planned to include from the start?

Kitase: We had thought of the bike mini-game where you escape from Midgar, but apart from that we had no plans at all (laughs). Now we don't have staff who aren't working on anything, but back then we could have staff who had a bit of free time between projects. There were some new staff as well so, kind of doubling as training, we had them make things that needed specialised programs, like the roller coaster shooting game or the submarines.

&#8212;So that's the story behind it! By the way, were there any specific episodes from back then that left a mark on you?

Kitase: Actually, 6 days after &#8220;FFVII&#8221; mastered up, my eldest son was born. I luckily got there in time for the birth, but afterwards my wife said &#8220;you can't just simply show up for the moment he's born and everything's fine&#8221; (wry smile). So while I caused some worry, it was a memorable time also for the birth of my son.

&#8212;So finally, can you give a message to the fans of &#8220;FFVII&#8221;?

Kitase: Looking back on the development of &#8220;FFVII&#8221; now, the difference in proportion between the field and battle sections encapsulates how the desire to &#8220;include the stuff we wanted to do&#8221; won over consistency. Those bits that are rough but you can feel the energy behind them, those are my favourite points in &#8220;FFVII&#8221;, and I think maybe what has been supported for so long. As you get used to game development you try to make something more clean and refined, but even if some things were a bit irregular, like there being so many mini-games, later on you come to realise that those can create some unpredictable sort of fun. I hope we can treasure that energy in the future as well, and not forget the enthusiasm we had at first as we make new games.

*1: Tetsuya Nomura. Character designer for &#8220;FFVII&#8221;.
*2: Hironobu Sakaguchi. Produced heavily involved with the &#8220;FF&#8221; series.
*3: Yusuke Naora. Art director for &#8220;FFVII&#8221;.
*4: Kazushige Nojima. In charge of the scenario of &#8220;FFVII&#8221;.

&#8211; On the 15th anniversary
To Tetsu

You've mainly received attention for your character designs, but you also suggested various systems like the limit breaks in &#8220;FFVII&#8221; which would be used in later games in the series. Limit breaks are similar to the special attacks in fighting games, but what an interesting idea it was to think it would be fun to place those into an RPG format. If I said it to you directly you'd get ahead of yourself so I won't, but I would just like to say 'thank you' (laughs). (Kitase)

&#8211; On the 15th anniversary
To Nojima

While we were asking you to come up with a mysterious story like &#8220;Glory of Hercules III&#8221;, me and Nomura kept throwing these elements we wanted without considering foreshadowing, so I think incorporating them must have been tough. But I am grateful that you pieced them together without turning us down. Thank you. But around the time of &#8220;FFX&#8221; I was far too unreasonable and had an unpleasent air about me, didn't I (wry smile). (Kitase)
 
#23
Making newspost now. *NEWSPOST NOW MADE*

EDIT:
Question, shouldn't it read "FFVIII" before the mention of Edea, rather than FFVII?
 
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Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
#24
It probably should, I get confused when having to roman numeral a lot.

edit; bunch of pictures i cba to sort through now



















 
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Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
#25
Early material stuff, didn't include the images here because I think it's clear which goes with what and i are lazy.

15 years after it was developed, there are few resources that are still around. Here are a few of the storyboards made by Yoshinori Kitase and the other staff, and compared with the scenes from the final version.


Scene 1: Sephiroth disappearing into the flames

This famous scene is one of the most iconic scenes in the game. In the storyboards, Sephiroth's face wasn't visible; only his eyes glowing eerily.

(Storyboards by: Yoshinori Kitase, Tetsuya Nomura)


Scene 2: Cloud handing the Black Materia to Sephiroth

During development, the location was called the 'Materia Chamber'.

(Storyboard by: Yoshinori Kitase, Tetsuya Nomura, Yusuke Naora)


Scene 3: Tifa jumping onto the airship

If you look at the notes for the storyboard, you can see that originally Red XIII was to be accompanying Tifa. The camera work was also different, not moving around Tifa like in the final version.


Scene 4: Cloud's summon magic

This is a storyboard created by Kitase for a demo movie shown at a games-related exhibit, featuring Cloud summoning Leviathan during a battle with a massive enemy. Circumstances lead to the production of this demo movie being cancelled. The animation was different from the final game, and here materia wasn't used.

(Storyboard by: Yoshinori Kitase)


Scene 5: Victory pose

This is another storyboard for an unproduced demo movie. Nomura drew the motions for Cloud sheathing the Buster Sword. This was originally for the 'idling' after a battle, with the Buster Sword being held on his back with magnets. This was later used as the post-battle animation in the final game.

(Storyboard by: Tetsuya Nomura)



Initial Plot Analysis 1: Cloud's flashback

In the initial plot, when you returned to Seventh Heaven after bombing the sector 1 mako reactor, there were plans for a scene of Cloud leaving his hometown Nibelheim to appear here. At this point in time there was no Zack, and Cloud and Tifa had been close since they were very young. It also mentions Cloud's father, who is implied to have died.


INITIAL PLOT
CLOUD'S DEPATURE

- Village square
Villager: "Take care."
Villager: "
Villager: "Just like Sephiroth."
Villager: "You might be in the big city, but never forget about your village. Your home. Don't forget about Nibelheim."

Cloud turns his head around looking for Tifa.

Cloud's Mother: "I'm so proud of you." < Unconscious pressure from his mother.
Cloud: "Mum, don't jump the gun here. It's not like I'm definitely going to make it into SOLDIER."
Cloud's Mother: "Do your best for your father, rest his soul."
Cloud: "Alright, don't worry."

Tifa is looking at Cloud from the second floor window of her house. Cloud and Tifa's gazes meet.

Cloud: "I'm going now."

Cloud leaves the village.



Initial Plot Analysis 2: Yuffie joins the team

In the final game, you can complete the game without getting Yuffie on your team. In the initial plot, it lists various ways for getting her on your team. Like the final game you would meet her in battle and have her join you, but initially there were several variations of her appearance. She seems to have changed a lot from the early stages, for example her status as a fugitive.

INITIAL PLOT
ABOUT YUFFIE

(set up) From the opening onward, wanted posters for Yuffie are all over the towns. Yuffie is a fugitive. Each time you look at a poster, her appearance and age is different.

(how to recruit her)
Encounter in battle. Or when you sleep in an inn she will attack Cloud. Either way this event can occur anywhere.

(at any time)
From this point on you can recruit Yuffie at any time. You cannot proceed with the Wutai events without Yuffie, so you must recruit her in order to complete the Wutai events.
When she first joins your team, Yuffie's appearance (and level) will be decided. (This is based on the last wanted poster you saw.) So when you want to get the Yuffie you would like on your team, look at that poster last.


Although it's not new, I liked the thing about Yuffie's appearance changing.
 
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