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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Final Fantasy XV - What Took So Long? Dark History: Episode 3

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The development history of Final Fantasy XV has been... troubled, to say the least.

From switching consoles and changing directors to a secret Final Fantasy game that was being

developed by a Western company.

Its finally here but the big question is: what took so long?

Its no secret that the development of Final Fantasy XV has take a long time.

10 years now, to be exact.

A change in title, story, directors, engines, consoles and hierarchy would put even the

most efficient game company to the test.

Square Enix, however, is not the most efficient game company.

Far from it.

These changes resulted in delays all the way up to August 2016, when it was announced that

the release date was being pushed back, yet again.

This game has switched so many things at so many different times that it should be a launch

title for the Nintendo Switch.

Seriously though,

How cool would that be?

Square Enixs previous main entry into the franchise, Final Fantasy 13, failed to capture

the hearts of its core audience.

Unfortunately for Square Enix, they had 2 other games planned for release around that

title (aside from the direct sequels).

FF Versus 13 was one of these projects.

Up and coming director Tetsuya Nomura, who made a name for himself after the surprising

success of Kingdom Hearts, was chosen to be the director in 2006.

Nomura is incredibly ambitious.

He immediately set out to make something big and new, including an emotional depth that

did not exist in other Final Fantasy games.

This being only a spin-off, he had the freedom to make it happen.

He got his core Kingdom Hearts team together and they got to work.

By 2010, after FFXIII had come out, Square started to rethink their strategy.

Interest in the Final Fantasy franchise has been waning for more than a decade now, and

after Final Fantasy XIV was released to awful reviews, they knew that they needed something

special to revive the name.

It was clear that, while Final Fantasy XIII was reviewed well and sold over 6 million

copies, it was not the masterpiece they had intended it to be.

After renaming FF Agito XIII to FF Type-0, the question then became, “What to do with

Versus XIII?”

It had a moldable story that could be changed into a standalone game, if need be.

Square had on and off talked about making it the next Final Fantasy game, though nothing

was decided on for sure.

It remained a spin-off game for the next several years.

Development started on the Crystal Tools game engine for the PS3.

This became a problem when everything had to be migrated over to their new Luminous

Studio engine for the PS4.

To do this, they used DirectX 11 software.

This meant that they wouldnt have to compromise on quality when porting the game to other

systems, such as the X Box One.

Switching consoles and game engines is no easy task, but with the life of the PS3 shortening,

and no end in sight for the project, they had no other choice.

French gaming publication Gamekyo reported that Nomura had plans to make Versus XIII

into a trilogy.

He and his team constantly ran into problems that nobody knew how to solve as he continued

to expand the project, as opposed to scaling back and focusing on one specific story.

The trailers we kept seeing were mostly conceptual, and hadnt yet been implemented into the

broader story.

They were awesome scenes, for sure, but there was little substance to accompany the flashy

artwork.

It seems that Square executives were very aware of the trouble Nomura was having, but

also the incredible potential his ideas had.

They continued to let Nomura have his way until December of 2012.

It was here that several big decisions were made.

It was finally decided that the game would abandon the XIII title and become the XVth

main entry into the Final Fantasy Series.

Given the new direction this game would take, executives at Square Enix began to feel uneasy

about having Tetsuya Nomura direct what had become such an enormous project.

In fact, one day in December, Nomura charged into Squares offices with the brilliant

idea that FFXV could become a musical.

A musical.

Yeah, you heard that right.

He had just seen Les Miserables, which came out in Japan on December 21st, 2012.

Talk about Dark Historya musical FF is about as dark as it gets.

Its unclear if this impacted Square Enixs decision to replace him as the director or

not, but we know one thing for sure.

In that same month Hajime Tabata, who would eventually take over completely, was brought

on to co-direct the project.

Changing directors, as well as which system and engine the game was going to run on, set

the project back a ways.

Not only was Hajime Tabata added to the team, but writer Kazushige Nojima and producer Yoshinori

Kitase were taken off.

Things were changing, and though Tabata tried to stay true to the initial vision, much of

what Nomura had originally intended did not survive the restructuring.

Tabata also reshaped the entire hierarchy of the development team, putting everyone

on equal footing.

This was a big deal, especially for a Japanese company.

Hierarchy is heavily ingrained in the Japanese culture, so many of the senior developers

didnt take kindly to this new work format.

Ultimately, Tabata feels it was the right decision that has spawned greater creativity

among the teams.

Final Fantasy Disease, as Tabata calls it, is a real thing.

When a video game company has an IP that is deemed their most valuable, the employees

who work on it feel like theyre the top dogs in the company.

And theyre right, to an extent.

The problem is, when these top employees have their own ideas about what Final Fantasy is,

and what a Final Fantasy game ought to have in it.

When developers have such strong opinions, they begin to reject new or original ideas

on the basis that its notgood for the series”.

Tabata wanted to break away from this line of thinking, which he felt has plagued

the more recent Final Fantasy titles.

Collaborations have increasingly become a bigger part of Square Enixs strategies.

They struck a deal with Avalanche Studios, creators of Just Cause, to work together on

the Airships for FFXV.

Square Enix ended up talking to them, learning how they worked around certain issues, and

implementing it themselves.

Square would have had a difficult time implementing Avalanches actual software this far into

production.

So the formal collaboration was called off after Square Enix got the information they

wanted.

No word on how Avalanche felt about the way that whole deal went down.

Speaking of collaborations with other companies I actually want to take a break here to talk

about two western companies who have been directly involved in making Final Fantasy

games.

One, you may have heard of.

The other, is only now being revealed.

Ill start with the company Grin, who developed a spin-off game to Final Fantasy XII called

Fortress.

It had been coming along nicely, with some beautiful concept art.

Yet, after a year or two, Square Enix pulled their funding and cancelled the project.

The company went out of business as a direct result, with the CEO citing abetrayal

from Square Enix.

Now, what does a canceled FFXII spin-off have to do with FFXV?

Well, youre about to find out.

What happened with Grin was unfortunate, but worse for Square, it was public.

Square Enix wanted to avoid the bad press again, if at all possible.

Their solution?

If they owned the company, they could keep a lid on this sort of stuff.

In 2009, the year that Grin filed for bankruptcy, Square Enix bought Eidos Interactive.

As Square was still unsure about the direction FFXV should go, they had an idea.

How about letting a western company make a main-line FF game?

They could then market it as the first western developed FF.

This would likely have been FFXV, as what is now called XV was still Versus XIII at

the time.

At this point, I would like to introduce you all to Project W.

FFXIII Lightning Returns director Yuji Abe stated in 2013 that Eidos could possibly develop

a Final Fantasy game in the future.

What he did not mention was that Eidos had been developing a main-line Final Fantasy

game for years.

According to an anonymous source of ours with knowledge of the project, Project W was going

to be a different kind of Final Fantasy.

The studio that made Deus Ex was deemed more than qualified for the task, and Eidos Montreal

started to develop, in secret, a Final Fantasy game.

The artwork you are now seeing is not from that game, but is close to the original concept

art.

A great deal of the game was to take place in outer space, but not the vacuum of space

we know it to be.

Instead, characters could sail airships into an outer space full of detail; shapes, colors,

patterns, abstract geometry, and clouds, with planets interspersed throughout.

The artwork was mesmerizing, and the game seemed to go into a fantasy world that is

very, very far removed from reality.

It was so extensive that even Weta Digital, the VFX company behind The Lord of The Rings,

was involved in conceptualizing this new Final Fantasy world.

Then, in 2013, Square canned the entire thing.

The whole project disappeared, never to be heard of again.

(until now)

The General Manager and Founder of Eidos Montreal resigned shortly after the project was canceled,

citing irreconcilable differences with Square Enix; though its unknown if his resignation

had anything to do with Squares handling of Project W. Final Fantasy XV, as we now

know it, is to be an emotionally deep game; “a fantasy based in reality”, as Nomura

calls it; though, I cant help but wonder what Final Fantasy XV would have been like

if Eidos had been allowed to follow through on their project.

Who knows, maybe itll get picked up again, and Square Enix can finally have their aptly

marketedwestern developed Final Fantasy.”

Until then, well just have to wait.

Square made the decision that FF Versus XIII would become Final Fantasy XV, instead of

the Eidos developed Project W, and began moving forward.

The path ahead, though much clearer now, still had a few more hurdles to overcome.

The story was reworked, some characters were taken away, while others were added.

The game missed its September 2016 release date, electing instead to come out in November

in order to fix a few problems that came up late in development.

Their media mix approach, including phone games, an Anime series and a feature film,

shows that theyre going all in on this world.

This truly could be the next great Final Fantasy game.

With the turbulent history of this games development, its no wonder it took 10 years

to complete.

Even as early as December, 2012, Square was still unsure which direction Final Fantasy

XV should take.

Whether to appeal to a western audience, allowing a western company the opportunity, or to turn

an earlier spin-off into a standalone title.

Not just any title, mind you.

This is to be the Final Fantasy that brings the IP back to the forefront of the gaming

world.

The road to this point has been rocky, to say the least, but after all the delays, changes

and restructuring as a result of this game, Square Enix is finally set for the release

of their next masterpiece.

Heres to Final Fantasy XV, and whatever else the future has in store for the Final

Fantasy franchise.

The Description of Final Fantasy XV - What Took So Long? Dark History: Episode 3