During a lecture held at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris, attended by DualShockers, Former Square Enix Technology Director Julien Merceron gave his insight on the transition between Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Final Fantasy XV.
While Final Fantasy XV was still named Versus XIII, Merceron was wrking on XIII-2, and the concept of Versus XIII was constantly evolving. The technology the development team used at that time gradually became less and less in line with the project, as the concept was changing so much. The game became open world, a new tech had to be created for the field, streaming and other features had to be added and caused a lot of problems for the team.
At the same time, Final Fantasy XIV was causing problems as well, and this was a wake up call for Square Enix and something had to be done about it. The publisher recruited a developer from Sega, whom brought some other members of his former team. The newcomers had an enormous experience in physically-based lighting, but that time Merceron still wasn’t 100% sure about taking that direction, because he was very conscious of the hardware limitations of the PS3 and Xbox 360, and of the problems encountered with the same technology at Eidos.
That said, the new team members had a huge experience in the field, and at the same the game’s concept had less characters than what they had at Eidos, Environments were a little smoother, and pushing equations a little bit in less comfortable areas, started to look less scary for Merceron.
The team discussed the problem and found a solution, similar to the approach used by Ubisoft, creating an approximate system that allowed real-time rendering during editing. They started working on the graphics and on the animations. Their first objective was to create a cinematics editor, creating visuals, animations, special effects and particles. They also implemented a system allowing to manage events, triggering different kind of events during cinematics, transitioning from one scene to the other, and so on. That was the first thing they fixed, leading to the evolution of the game.
Asked whether Final Fantasy XV will live up to its ambitions now that direction is in the hands of Hajime Tabata, Merceron answered that he doesn’t know many developers in the west or in Japan that are fully satisfied with the results of their work. When they finish a project, there’s always a feeling that it is incomplete, that more could be added here and there. They always have a desire to go back and rework something, which is now possible with patches (that developers unfortunately abuse a lot according to Merceron). That’s why he thinks that the team won’t be fully satisfied when the game will release, but this is what will give birth to an awesome Final Fantasy XVI.
The Video Game masterclass event in Paris was organized by Jeux Vidéo Magazine and Cité des Sciences.
[On-Location Reporting and Translation: Morgane Bouvais]