Final Fantasy XV Lead Game Designer Wan Hazmer is one of the most prominent non-Japanese developers working at Square Enix, and he gave more insight on how his culture is influencing his game and on what learned at the house of Final Fantasy in a video posted by YouTube user Travel Garage TV.
First and foremost, Hazmer mentioned the three lessons he learned at Square Enix:
You try to think from the user’s perspective. I think that’s very very important when you create a game. You have to come up with a game they want to experience.
Persistence. A lot of people give up. They have this ideal situation of how a team should be like, and then when they go to Japan they’re totally disappointed. It’s best that you adapt to it first.
The third thing, individuality. If they hired a Malaysian game designer that acts like a Japanese, you may as well hire a Japanese person, right? So I think it’s very, very important to make sure that we’re proud of our own culture, we’re proud of who we are, and I’m not only talking about being Malaysian or being Hazmer, you know, yourself… Don’t lose that, while adapting to their culture.
Hazmer continued by mentioning that he didn’t just contribute to Final Fantasy XV with tangible work, but also by teaching the team his culture: some say that the “laid-back” culture in Malaysia is a negative aspect, but once you go to Japan, you appreciate it much more. That culture is reflected in the town of Lestallum: everyone is laid back, eat leusirely and enjoys the weather.
He then talked on how the developers introduced the popular Malaysian beverage teh tarik in the game, and how modeling the liquid pouring from one cup to the other during preparation created a big challenge for the team.
Then he mentioned that the developers are planning to put into the game local effects like the smoke emanating from the Malaysian skewers Satay, and that’s the kind of Malaysian elements you don’t see in games.
Hamzer feels that Malaysians should be proud of intangible elements of their culture like a waiter being nonchalant as he says “we’re out of fried rice. Something else?” without even apologizing. He believes that the world should experience it, and if they won’t experience it by visiting the country, he wants poeple to experience it in the game.
You can check out the video here (embedding is disabled, so you’ll have to jump to the link). It also gives a much better look at the “Malaysian” character animations in the city of Lestallum showcased a few weeks ago, of which we had only seen a blurry video from the Comic Fiesta presentation before.