Translated by yours truly, @Cowlicks and Cobwebs for App Invasion. Tried looking for an English version of this interview: http://app.famitsu.com/20141130_470626/ but I found none on the internet so here you go guys. Warning, this is veeeeeery long. I didn't prepare a tl;dr version as I had fun translating it so I hope you guys have fun reading it as well! (though I underlined the parts that mention Brave Frontier, if that's the only thing you're concerned about English isn't my first language so please do forgive me if there are grammatical errors and typos here and there. You can find the original Japanese text in the link above. I didn't bother including it here so it won't look cluttered. The men behind the new Final Fantasy Game Left: Alim CEO & [FF Exvius] Project Executive Director Hisatoshi HAYAKASHI Mid: Square Enix 10th Business Division Senior Manager & [FF Exvius] Project Producer Kei HIRONO Right: Alim COO & [FF Exvius] Project Production Producer Eiji TAKAHASHI Interview (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Q. We're quite surprised that Square Enix is teaming up with Alim to make this new game. Can you give us insight as to how this was realized? Hayakashi: It all began when Brave Frontier had a collaboration with Emperor's Saga. That was where we were able to establish our connections. And when I jokingly tried to ask the Square Enix guys while we were out drinking to "Please let me make an FF game!" --- bam! Things just happened (laughs) Hirono: That's pretty much how it began. Our department has already been doing a lot of experimental work, like making a live action drama of "Kakusansei Million Arthur", but we never actually had the opportunity to work on the FF franchise. I personally wanted to be a part of FF all along, and that was exactly when I got to meet the guys from Alim who made the smash hit "Brave Frontier". Everything just fell into place at the right time. Takahashi: Our Hayakashi here is a well-known Square Enix faboy. He even established his very own gaming company thanks to FFIV which he got to play when he was in 2nd year Junior High (laughs). He always said "I want to create a game that's like FF" since the day we started working. And that's why he's been really excited when he learned that there was a possibility of his dream becoming a reality. Hirono: And that's when we proceeded with the plans internally, and we came to the conclusion that "We will definitely be able to make the best FF game as long as we're partnering with Alim" and were given the go sign to execute the project. That's because Brave Frontier has and still continues to be at the forefront of all smartphone RPGs. Q. This has now connected Mr. Hayakashi's love for FF, Mr. Hirono's challenger spirit and Alim's success. But we're pretty sure that there are also a lot of obstacles in making a new kind of game while using the "FF" brand Hirono: A wide variety of FF games have already been released in the past so we had some difficulties in trying to make this happen, but we were finally able to make ends meet upon countless conversations. "FF Brave Exvius" won't just be a mere collaboration between Brave Frontier and Final Fantasy--- we are looking at this as a completely original "Amazing Project". Square Enix will be handling the publishing and management to make sure that the game will meet the quality and standards that the FF brand demands, as we have left Alim in charge of the development. Takahashi: In Alim, Hayakashi is in charge of creating the game's general theme, the scenario, character designs and planning while I am in charge of managing the production floor. It's the same stance as how we've been doing Brave Frontier. Q. ...and I'm sure that there are some Brave Frontier fans who are worried about this news Hirono: One of our initial concerns ever since we started working on this project was to not let the consumers of either series down. Please don't worry as we're following through on that even as we're on-going production. Hayakashi: The biggest no-no for us creators is to "provide boring pieces of work" to our customers. Rest assured, we won't be neglecting Brave Frontier --- we're in fact going to power it up and take it to the next level. Who knows, the game might even get a collaboration with "FF Brave Exvius" in the future. Q. It would be nice if these 2 different series synergize with and help one another. Now then, let's talk more about FF Exvius. Please tell us the main concept of the game. Hirono: The concept is --- "A touching (i.e. tear-jerking) storyline, exhilirating battle mechanics, and to turn this project into number one in the world". We're all aiming to be the number one in everything. Q. What's the meaning behind the title "Brave Exvius"? Hirono: While it's true that we included the word "Brave" because we're working on this together with the "Brave Frontier" team, we also wanted to have this image of a "courageous, brave hero" associated with the title. Exvius is an original word we eventually came up with while brainstorming on the word "Exodus". It's connected to the story though so we can't reveal anything more than that...... Actually, we would want the consumers to ponder over the title and think why we decided to name it like that, and I think they'll be able to enjoy the game more. Takahashi: We actually suggested if we could drop "Brave" from the name so that it won't be associated too much with Brave Frontier. Q. Looks like you had some complications in that aspect as well. Please tell us more about the game's Title Logo and illustration Hirono: We asked Mr. Yoshitaka Amano to draw this after explaining to him the story and the main characters of this game. This is the heroine of the game, and the 2 swords represent the main character and his rival. Q. So Mr. Amano not only did the logo, but also did this image art? Hirono: Yes. This is definitely recognizable as art done by THE Mr. Yoshitaka Amano which symbolizes the theme of this game. Here you can see the hero, his rival and the heroine going up against a "Behemoth", one of the most recognizable monsters from the FF Franchise. We can also see people trapped inside the crystals. Q. Could these be the Warriors of Light from FFI? The one on the left is Frioniel (FF2), right? Hirono: That's correct. Here, you can "summon" the characters from the FF series to aid you in battle. Q. "Summon" them in battle--- Which leads us to the theme of this game Hayakashi: In short, it's a got this traditional RPG theme of "Light vs. Dark". One major characteristic of this game is that you can navigate your character through a field and in dungeons, and then the events you encounter at various locations will lead to character conversations. Mobile phone apps and games are usually played casually only when you have time, making it difficult for the user to be fully immersed into the game, but FF Brave Exvius aims to change that as we have given a whole lot more emphasis to the story. Hirono: The story revolves around the original characters--- the main hero and his rival who carry on with their adventure while engaging in some friendly competition, and meet the heroine along the way. And in typical FF fashion, events revolving around "Crystals" will unfold one after another, involving the main heroes in the process. It really follows the trend of your stereotype RPGs and is quite immersing. Touching the emotions of the players and bringing out tears is also one of our goals, so we are certainly looking to put in those kinds of scenes and events throughout the game. Q. What kind of role will characters and crystals have in this game? Hirono: Crystals in this game are the source of energy for flying ships, and others. However in this world, there are some crystals "stuffed with human thoughts", and using the said crystals will enable the person to "summon that person's vision". That "vision" which was summoned will then aid you in battle. But it seems that only a select number of people are allowed to summon from these crystals. Q. Meaning the main characters possess that power to "summon"? Takahashi: Yes. But this is not exactly a game where you just collect the past FF characters and play with them. This is still an original game, revolving around the world of "FF Brave Exvius" and these characters are nothing more than "powerful warriors who will lend you their strength and just participate in battle". We are not limiting these summons to FF characters; we're also planning to include original characters in there. Hirono: We are also planning to include the heroes from the past within the actual stroyline of FF Brave Exvius. We have prepared a lot of aspects in this game that will make it an enjoyable experience so that people won't just dismiss it as an "FF All-stars" game. Q. The game looks like it's shaping up to include a lot of original elements. Let's go back to the artwork which includes the behemoth. Does this mean that the enemies within the game are monsters from the FF series? Hayakashi: A lot of monsters you've seen in the FF series will also make their appearance here. That same monster though looks different across the different games, so it would be nice if the players would also take notice of how we took these traditional FF monsters and how we redesigned their sprites. Takahashi: I think hardcore FF fans will be able to appreciate the designs and say "Oh! This monster looks like the FF(insert#) version!". We're also looking into letting Gilgamesh make an appearance in a special quest. We're also excited as to how we will be designing Gilgamesh when the player manages to capture it as an ally. Hayakashi: Then that means we have to put the theme song "Battle on the Big Bridge" as well (laughs). We certainly have to consider these "FF things" that we should not be missing out on Q. We'd definitely want to see that implemented! By the way, will you be using the music of the past FF games? Hayakashi: Presently, only 2 songs from the past are being reused. Everything else will be original. Hirono: Scoring and composing are done by trying to put the tunes that we, the people who grew up playing FF, have in our heads into actual melodies. Q. I see. So while making this "FF" game, was there an aspect which Alim particularly took close attention to? Hayakashi: It has to be the dialogue and conversation between characters. The series has taken a much more cinematic approach of depicting such scenes from FF7 onwards due to technology and 3D polygons, but this game will entirely focus on event scenes and conversations going on between pixel sprites. This is also the reason why we're also very careful about the scoring and the music. We build on that as the core of the game, and then add on more meat to the game; which is the summons, the equipment and other system stuff. Takahashi: We've been saying that the event scenes of this game will be what we weren't able to accomplish with Brave Frontier. Q. ---Which means event scenes won't be done while showing the artwork of the characters involved, but between sprites? Hayakashi: Yes. With artwork, we are able to show the facial expressions of the characters; but what if the character in the artwork looks like he's smiling, when he's actually disappointed in the story? That thing alone may turn off players, and alienate them from the FF world. That is why we wanted to limit the information that we give out at these event scenes as much as possible, and let people run their imaginations; as if reading a book. Takahashi: People who played games like this in the past probably haven't had the chance to encounter something of the same nature within the past 10 years, right? The younger generation might actually see it as something fresh, while people from our generation will definitely feel some nostalgia. Nostalgically fresh, or something. Hirono: I think I heard that phrase somewhere before (laughs) Q. (Laughs). Mr. Hirono, did you have a specific request to Alim that you didn't want them omitting from a Final Fantasy game? Hirono: "FF" doesn't exactly have a cliche element which will make people say "this is definitely FF", and has always been a series which has gained popularity and success by constantly trying out things. Despite that, each FF game in the past still has it's own "FF feel" to it. We wanted Alim to make a completely new kind of "FF" game so our order for them was this: "FF isn't about being caught up in existing traditions and concepts. If you make the best possible game that you can, then that there is "FF". Hayakashi: People may think that "anything goes with FF", but let's not forget that the slightest of things will also make people think: "but that isn't FF...". It's really hard to put into words, but in the end, I still think that it has that "FF" feel to it. Hirono: It's like stuffingg each individual involved in production's feelings towards "FF" into the game as we are making it. I hope the players can feel our very own sense of "FF" with Brave Exvius. Takahashi: The FF series went with the orthodox "fantasy" storyline up until 6, but opened up a new path with 7 and created something wonderful with it. FF Brave Exvius can probably be thought of something like a continuation of the trend that was going on until FF6, and what that trend would feel like now. Q. We're also curious about the game mechanics. Can you please tell us something about the battle system? Hayakashi: We considered implementing FF's traditional Active Time Battle (ATB) system, but upon various tests, we settled to a turn-based one. When we tried going with the ATB system, players would have to look at the gauge at the bottom of the screen, which we felt would be a waste as they would be missing out on the flashy action scenes. We want to showcase the battle scenes as well, and we also want to strengthen the strategy aspects of the game, which is why we eventually settled for a turn-based battle system. You choose whether the character will perform a normal attack, cast magic, summon, use abilities and your entire party will perform them all at once afterwards. Do note that this is still temporary and we will keep on tweaking the system until the very end. We want the command input method to be done seamlessly without much effort, and make the players feel good while playing. Q. Looks like you've been going through a lot of trial and error. Hirono: Is this already your 3rd version of the system? Takahashi: No, I think there were already 7 versions..... Hayakashi: All in all, we created about 20 versions already (laughs). Q. That much! And will each character be assigned to an element like in Brave Frontier? Hayakashi: The game has the concept of elements. But each character isn't specifically assigned to a particular element. It's just that the magic technique "fire" will be of the fire element. It's not like the elemental wheel where one element is strong to a particular element and is weak against another one. Hirono: It's an elemental system similar to the past FF games, like some specific monsters are weak against fire, things like that. Takahashi: Yes, and machines are traditionally weak against thunder in past FF games. Things like that too can contribute to contribute to its "FF" image and we are giving importance to that. Q. So it looks like the system will be completely different from Brave Frontier? Takahashi: Yes. There might be a lot of people who think that it's a similar game, but it'll be completely different so please look forward to it. Hirono: We wanted to avoid any clashes and conflicts with the users of Brave Frontier, and want the users to enjoy both games as two completely different entities. In order for us to achieve that, we felt that we had to make an entirely new battle system from scratch. But we can assure you that the exhiliriating feeling that you get in battle with Brave Frontier will duly be felt in Brave Exvius as well. Q. It also feels like the quality of the sprites have improved as well Takahashi: That's what we specialize in. Just looking at the entire list of characters, it really is a thing of beauty (laughs). Hirono: Just looking at them makes you excited. I can assure you that these character sprites have intense motions. Q. That's definitely Alim's specialty (laughs). What about the battles, do you encounter the enemies on the field? Hirono: Yes. You can currently explore the field freely by flicking, and the screen switches over to the battle screen once you encounter an enemy. There are also instances where you trigger events just by walking on to specific areas of the field. It really has a similar feel to the video game console RPGs. But we still haven't forgotten the fact that you're playing this on the palm of your hands, so we're making sure that you won't struggle with the controls. Q. Will you be able to raise the characters and customize them? Hayakashi: Of course. Weapons, equipment on the head, right hand, left hand, torso... you can put equipment on various body parts. Hirono: The characters also learn a lot of different abilities and magic spells, and you can also craft equipment. Takahashi: Having the massive "FF" RPG brand attached to this game has actually made it easier to proceed with implementing such traditional and orthodox elements into the game. Users won't have to mind such things and just enjoy the game as it is. Developers of other titles won't have the same kind of freedom to do things like this. And that's why we're stuffing in a lot of different elements into the game, thinking that people are expecting as much from "FF" title. Though I admit that creating all the data for it is a herculean task (wry smile). Q. It looks like it will be packed with a lot of stuff (laughs) Hayakashi: Just exploring the field will be a fun experience. Remember the old FF games which had secret passageways? Well, FF Brave Exvius will have that and a lot more. Hirono: People will have a fun time exploring since we have treasure boxes at the end of secret passages and various materials and items scattered at random locations. And tapping the treasure box to obtain open it is another thing that you can do precisely since you're playing it on a mobile device. Hayakashi: We're giving emphasis to the "enjoyment of discovery". But there won't be any abilities that will make you find these hidden passageways (laughs). We're hoping for the various online communities to have fun exchanging such information among themselves" Q. Do you have anything else in store for the users so that they can perhaps interact with one another or play co-operatively? Hayakashi: Yes. We still can't divulge the details... but we're eventually looking at housing elements and auctions within the game. Q. Like an MMORPG! Hirono: It may sound like a joke, but that is something that Mr. Hayakashi has been insisting since the proposal stages. Hayakashi: Indeed! We also want the players to be able to build the flying ships themselves. Hirono: I think things like that will be included in future updates. We are hoping to build up these ideas along with the users as we progress. Q. What other elements would you like to include in the game? Will there be PVP elements in it? Hayakashi: People who have initially cleared FF games of the past usually wish that they could play the game more, right? We're hoping to fulfill that wish of the gamers and give it more replay value. And in order for us to do that, we are considering the inclusion of PVP elements into the game. And we won't just increase the number of characters appearing in the game, we're also thinking of adding to the story further. Takahashi: There will be a main storyline, and there will also be sub-plots revolving around it, but the main storyline alone will be quite long. This will also lead to players assuming that "wow, maybe that character will make his appearance here!" Hirono: We're also thinking of having the main storyline drop a lot of hints on future events, much like foreign dramas, like from season 1 to season 2.... Takahashi: People may then think "what do we play until the next chapter is released!?". Don't worry, there will definitely be a lot of grinding elements included. You raise the characters, make equipment, fight in the colloseum, raise your summon beasts... Q. A colloseum, and levelling your summon beasts! Takahashi: Ah! Pretend you never heard that (Laughs). All the content we're going to stuff into FF Brave Exvius will be tough, so don't expect to clear things so easily. Q. It really looks like it will have a lot of content! Is there anything that's giving you problems during development? Hayakashi: Obviously, the character designing. You don't know how much we had to redraw Lydia (wry smile). And the overall theme, settings, being careful not to make any discrepancies and stuff. We can really tell that they're pretty fussy with the details. Hirono: We're also quite blunt with them when they include easter eggs and fun stuff. Hayakashi: We, especially I personally don't back down from an argument so I also fight for my ideas (laughs) Hirono: Both of us openly talk to one another about the points that we want to make, thus helping out each other's development (laughs) Q. (laughs) So you mentioned the designs. In Brave Frontier, the character design changes upon evolution. What about this game's FF characters? Takahashi: That's a good question (laughs). That's actually what we've been discussing about the most. Hirono: We'd just like to say that the game has what the players are looking for. I'm sure that you guys will be surprised. This is all possible because of Alim's top-notch sprite making quality. Takahashi: The inclusion of this aspect is actually what made us feel how much devoted Square Enix is in making FF Brave Exvius a success. Even us developers would think up to this day if that really was the right thing to do (laughs) Hayakashi: It means that you'll have to redesign the FF characters in a new form, meaning that this gave our designer the biggest headache (laughs). Our designers are working hard at this, and will be happy as long as people accept their work. Please look forward to it! Q. Wow, what a way to build up the hype....! And will people have to pay play the game? Hirono: We will be having the players summon for characters and maybe spend some for things involved in making items. But of course, you can still play the game and finish it without spending anything. Q. So how far are you into development? Hayakashi: About 50%. Once we finish the core and the foundations, I think we'll be able to proceed with development smoothly, but we're dealing with a massive amount of content here--- from maps to events and whatnot. We're working doubletime and increasing our efforts to finish this. Takahashi: This was also true with Brave Frontier, but the most time consuming aspect was actually doing all the tweaks after we finished a game that was actually playable. Hayakashi: And that's the most important part. There's a lot of things we want to adjust, like tilting the balance like this, or adjusting the color tones like that. We take note of every minor detail, even if it's just the hue and brightness of a single cloud in the background. Q. Alim has released Brave Frontier internationally. will this title have an international release as well? Hayakashi: Yes, we are working with that in mind. Hirono: The FF brand has a lot of international fans, so this game will most definitely be distributed around the globe. The know-how that this team has acquired from Brave Frontier which has cracked into various charts around the globe is being implemented into this game. We still do not have a definite timeline, but we'll try to release it without much delay from the Japan release to the customers overseas. One of our goals is to grab the title "World's #1". Even our game "Million Arthur" was also an international hit, so I do think that we will be able to release the game internationally rather smoothly. Q. Here's to hoping that this will be a massive hit! Hirono: We are working hard day in and day out as to not put shame to the "FF" brand. We need everyone's support in order for us to become #1 in the world, so yoroshiku onegaishimasu. We still have a lot of things up our sleeve, please look forward to the game!" Hayakashi: We are making a game that can be enjoyed by fans of the series, and non-fans alike. We are paying very close attention to detail in all aspects; the story, the battle, the map, everything and we hope players will be able to enjoy an RPG of the empirical way with this title.