Press Clippings | Hironobu Sakaguchi Interview
Interview with Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the Final Fantasy series and producer of Final Fantasy VII. From PlayStation Underground #2 demo CD set, released in the US in 1997.
Transcription and screenshots by Tuulisti.
PlayStation Underground: Why is Squaresoft publishing Final Fantasy FVII only on PlayStation?
Hironobu Sakaguchi: In the August of 95, one of the US's largest CG conventions, Siggraph, was held in LA. At that time we were not sure what the next generation RPG game should look like, so as an experiment we created a CG based, game like, interactive demo to be presented at the show. It focused on battle scenes that were 100% real time and polygon based. This became the seed of Final Fantasy VII and it was then that we decided to make this a CG based game.
When we discussed designing the field scenes as illustrations or CG based, we came up with the idea to eliminate the connection between movies and the fields. Without using blackout at all, and maintaining quality at the same time, we would make the movie stop at one cut and make the characters move around on it. We tried to make it controllable even during the movies. As a result of using a lot of motion data + CG effects and in still images, it turned out to be a mega capacity game, and therefore we had to choose CD-ROM as our media. It other words, we became too aggressive, and got ourselves into trouble.
Why did you need such a large staff?
A larger developer team will not always create a better game, but when a project moves onto a scale such as this, you get to spend a lot of money, and work with highly qualified staff.
We were able to use many high-end machines and work with a staff of approximately 100 people, and I believe this was one of the largest game development teams in history. As a result, the final game generates a tremendous amount of energy. My theory is this: if one person creates a game - it can be a racing game or anything - or 10 people create the same game, the one created by 10 people will be much richer in scope. There is a larger pool of resources to draw from, and each person is able to put passion into his role, creating a greater sense of depth.
How has film influenced your game-making?
It is easy to get emotionally involved with both films and games, although in different ways.
Adding certain interactive aspects to films however, I believe players can get further into them, even become one with the visual images. I have always emphasized visual and sound effects because rather than making my games equivalent to films, I want my games to surpass films. That is my goal.
Why is Final Fantasy VII getting so much praise?
Without changing the basic game play, the visual and sound effects have been significantly enhanced further drawing the players' emotions in to the game.
One way RPGs enforce too many images and too much sound on the players, robbing them of the feel of control.
In order to avoid those responses, we did extensive research during Final Fantasy V and VI on how to make the players interactively involved in the game, while upgrading the visual and sound effects.
The results of this research are reflected in Final Fantasy VII.
Are there any new themes in Final Fantasy VII?
When we were creating Final Fantasy III, my mother passed away, and ever since I have been thinking about the theme "life". Life exists in many things, and I was curious about what would happen if I attempted to analyze life in a mathematical and logical way. Maybe this was my approach in overcoming the grief I was experiencing.
This is the first time in the series that this particular theme actually appears in the game itself. See if you can spot it!
What was it like to work with director Yoshinori Kitase?
I have been working with him since Final Fantasy V. When he joined Square, he told me he initially wanted to become a film director, but that he thought this would be impossible in Japan. The previous version of Final Fantasy could be called puppet shows compared to this one. It's a real film requiring innovative effects and various camera angles. His experience studying cinematography and in making his own films has contributed a lot to the making of the game. He is the director of this game.