Today the Japanese website dedicated to computer graphics CGWorld published an interview to Final Fantasy VII Remake Art Director and VFX Director Shintaro Takai, and he provided some interesting insight into the development of the game.
Incidentally, Takai-san used to work on the original game as Special Magic Effects Director.
Takai-san gives an interesting answer when asked what he wants to change in the remake compared to the original in terms of his field, which is visual effects. He mentioned that when working on the original Final Fantasy VII, he did not put as much thought into the effects as he does now. For instance, there might have been an enemy emitted red flames while attacking even if it did not make much sense, just because it looked cool. Now, if an enemy emits red flames, it’s due to its nature, the weapons it uses, its energy source, and so forth. In this case, Takai-san also puts more thought into elements like emitted smoke and explosions. Even if it might not be official canon, he creates his own theories and stories about these things, so the effects at the time and those in the remake might not be directly connected.
According to Takai-san it’s not just a matter of improving the graphics. He wants to work while thinking deeper about it. For example, if you recover your energy with “Cure” it shouldn’t just be sparkly particles. He wants to create the effect while thinking “it’s invisible energy drifting around the character when it gathers and is visualized, it’s absorbed by the body and emits light.”
He also explains that Final Fantasy VII has a generational meaning. People who grew up playing a game are gradually playing a more and more relevant role as they become developers of the Final Fantasy VII Remake. Takai-san wants them to create a new form for Final Fantasy VII. His role is to determine the direction of the art, and he wants to create an environment where young developers can play an active role. That being said, even if he says “young,” the average age is about thirty years old.
Asked how important is the knowledge of the original game to work within the team, he mentioned that developers don’t need to know that much, so potential applicants shouldn’t be worried about that. That’s something mostly Producer Yoshinori Kitase and Director Tetsuya Nomura provide guidance on. Those who have a good mastery of graphics with the quality level of international AAA games will be a welcome addition to the team.
There are designers in the visual effects team that have never played the original game, even if they know broad elements like the characters’ names and the story. What matters most is their skill and sense, alongside their motivation. Although the core of the development of the Final Fantasy VII Remake is already solidified, since the VFX team is responsible for improving the quality during the final phase of production, there is still room for success for new applicants.
[Editor’s note: since the interview was published on a website specialized on CG, targeting Computer Graphics professionals, Takai-san is explaining most of these concepts to the benefit of those who would like to join the development team]
At the moment, the VFX team includes five developers (which incidentally is similar to the numbers of the VFX team for the original game). Recent AAA titles tend to have more, even over ten developers for the VFX team alone. That being said, Takai-san doesn’t aim to enlarge the team much, as he prefers to work efficiently.
Asked what kind of people he’d like to hire, he explains that he’s aiming to actively recruit excellent developers who are likely to be proactive and to adapt positively. It’s also good to be sociable and to have common sense. Between someone who tells him “I’ve been VFX director for ten years” and one who just left school but has good work sense, and is full of motivation, he’d feel like taking in the latter. This is not to say that veterans aren’t welcome, but he’d rather not have people stuck in their own ways and would like to welcome developers who can work comfortably with each other.
Even game development experience isn’t completely necessary, in fact, most of the members of the VFX team come from CG animation instead. With the progress of technology, as the barriers between pre-rendered and real-time graphics are getting lower and lower, effects that before could be possible only with pre-rendered approaches are now feasible in real-time. The effects of the Final Fantasy VII remake will demonstrate the skill and sense of those who are used to work on pre-rendered graphics.
If you’d like to hear more about the Final Fantasy VII Remake, you can check out this week’s episode of our WeebCast, which is almost all about that.
If you want to read more, you can check out our recent article about the game’s development philosophy. A few weeks ago we saw a few pieces of concept artwork and we read that development going well. Previously, we received a small update last summer by Tetsuya Nomura, and a few comments on how he manages to work on it and on Kingdom Hearts III at the same time. Back in May 2017, Square Enix brought the development back in-house, after a stint during which Cyberconnect2 worked on the early stages of the project.
The Final Fantasy VII Remake has been officially announced only for PS4 and for the moment does not have a release window. Despite that, Amazon is already offering pre-orders.
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