Introducing the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE development teamMembers of the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE development team discuss their thoughts and feelings about the highly-anticipated reimagining.
FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE arrives on PS4 on March 3, 2020. Ahead of the launch, members of the development team have shared their unique personal thoughts and insights about both the original game… and bringing the reimagining of the iconic RPG to life.
YOSHINORI KITASE - PRODUCER
In the several years following 2009, when I was running around all over the world promoting the FINAL FANTASY XIII series, I had opportunity to speak to many fans and journalists. The question that I always got as we got up to part ways was, “When are you making the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE?”
It was to the point where it almost felt like an alternative way to say goodbye, so eventually I started pre-emptively giving my response to the question before they’d even asked it. “If we were to create a remake of that now, it would be an enormous amount of data, and who knows how many years it would take. But, if the 'right time' comes along, we might just do it someday!” This is how I'd respond back then, who knows how many hundreds of times. To all the people I had a chance to meet with back then, the “right time” has finally arrived.
For the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, developers who worked on the original game have come onboard once again as core members, including myself as Producer, Tetsuya Nomura as Director, Motomu Toriyama as Co-Director, and Kazushige Nojima on Story & Scenario.
Additionally, we also have people like Co-Director Naoki Hamaguchi who are now part of the core development team, who was just a fan of FINAL FANTASY VII back then. And, to my delight, creators from younger generations all over the world have come forth upon hearing news of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s production. While ensuring that the spirit of the original game is kept intact, these members are adding to it the power of a new generation.
As a result, the game that is about to be born surpasses even my own expectations as the one who voiced the desire to take this endeavour on in the first place. In fact, the one who’s looking forward to playing this game the most right now might actually be me.
TETSUYA NOMURA - DIRECTOR & CONCEPT DESIGN
I started up the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE project around the time of Compilation of FINAL FANTASY VII. We’d gone through Advent Children, Before Crisis, Crisis Core, and Dirge of Cerberus, and I was planning this by myself for about a year as the fifth and final entry in the compilation.
Since that initial plan and my first ideas, other projects took-shape and I became very busy as they moved forward, but I never stopped thinking about VII. As such, I feel like I’m looking forward to the release as much as anyone, as I’ve been carrying around these ideas for a long time.
Opportunities for discussing our true intentions are few, but with regard to the size of the game that many are asking about – there’s no reason at all to worry. Even in this Midgar portion alone, the density and volume are so great that I had to give directions to lighten them.
With regard to new characters, of whom I said during past interviews that there would be “none” – though they aren’t main characters, their numbers ended up growing considerably in the process of creating a rich depiction of Midgar. When you think of Midgar’s final boss, you probably think of the M.O.T.O.R., but in this game new bosses will appear and add to the excitement of the story even more.
We’ve already begun working on the next one as well, but I’m confident that playing through this title will expand your expectations just like the world that extends beyond Midgar.
Until next time.
KAZUSHIGE NOJIMA (STELLAVISTA LTD.) - STORY & SCENARIO
It must have been in the very beginning stages of developing FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE that I got to see the Remake version of Cloud for the first time. It wasn’t post-Advent Children Cloud, with kindness brimming from within. Rather, here was a young man with fiery features, looking straight at me through the screen with aggression in his eyes. I knew right t hen: “Oh, this is it.”
This time, it was this Cloud that I needed to depict. When Cloud came to Midgar and was hired by Avalanche, this was the sort of look that he would have had on his face. So I revisited the experiences that he’d had in his life so far, thinking of the effect that each individual event would have had on him. His attitude toward his childhood friend Tifa. How would he act toward Barret? What sort of distance would he keep while interacting with passers-by on the street? I picture the scene of Midgar in my mind and imagine Cloud moving through it. Write new lines of dialogue to add for him. This is how Cloud in the Remake Version came to be.
It was an exciting task to introduce a new current of wind to FINAL FANTASY VII, but at the same time, there was some fear. The original game used cartoon-like, stylised art, and the story was completed by players using their imagination to supplement portions that couldn’t be depicted as a result. Even if they were seeing the same scene, the information they took away from it and how they interpreted it differed depending on the viewer. Perhaps it’s what might be considered a narrative form of storytelling nowadays.
In FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, there will be much less room for player imagination. This fact will probably change the feel of the story considerably. People who know the original might not know quite how to take it. Such is the fear that I have. But I also have conviction. It should be possible to feel a much deeper connection to Cloud as you join alongside him. It would be amazing if you could feel that fiery flame together with him.
NAOKI HAMAGUCHI - CO-DIRECTOR (GAME DESIGN / PROGRAMMING)
When the original FINAL FANTASY VII was released, I was just another student who dreamed of being in the gaming industry. I of course played the game, but I also re-read the guidebook over and over again, my heart stolen by the engaging universe. I remember wishing strongly that I’d be able to create a game like it someday.
Twenty-two years later, that student who dreamed of FINAL FANTASY VII is now involved in developing the remake. I can’t help but feel like it’s fate.
In this title, I handled overseeing the development team overall, such as deciding development milestones, constructing a workflow using Unreal Engine, and taking responsibility for game design.
Here, I met staff members who were involved in the original game, who entered the industry with childhood dreams of FINAL FANTASY VII just like me, and those who were drawn by the allure of FINAL FANTASY VII and joined the dev team from overseas. It was a gathering of amazing creators with passion and ambition towards the game. All I have is gratitude for having the opportunity to meet this team.
With all this in mind, I’ve considered the following phrase important: “respect for the original.” FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE takes on the challenge of creating something that’s created specifically thanks to the technological power and entertainment quality that matches the current generation, while treating the captivating elements of the original game with respect.
For those who’ve played it: “new but familiar.” For those who haven’t played it: “experience the charm of FINAL FANTASY VII, which moved the hearts of many, now created with the most exciting modern technology available.” I hope you enjoy it!
MOTOMU TORIYAMA - CO-DIRECTOR (SCENARIO DESIGN)
For the original game, I joined the project as a planner who was just starting out on my career, and I worked on Sector 7 slums and Wall Market.
In producing FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, the thoughts and feelings I had when I was just starting out back then were revived, and at the same time, I took on the challenge of new methods of expression that I’m able to execute now that I have the experience.
The original version was a forerunner when it came to RPGs that used 3D CG, but the characters were made of polygons, the dialogue was in text only, and cameras weren’t able to be used for cutscenes.
In FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, we’re using the newest visuals, voice acting, and character facial expressions to redesign the FINAL FANTASY VII universe to be more realistic. By increasing the realism of the universe within the city of Midgar, which is made prosperous by mako energy, we of course also reimagined the characters who reside there, like Cloud and Tifa, more vividly as living and breathing human beings, depicting their daily lives and feelings in a more in-depth manner.
We took care to remake not only the main characters, but also characters like Johnny and the Shinra Middle Manager who I created back then. Please keep your eye out to see how they make their new appearances. Additionally, when remaking the Honey-Bee Inn at the Wall Market, we revived it is as a pantheon of entertainment, which couldn’t be realized back then. Here, the scene that many of you have been eager to see, where Cloud disguises himself. Please enjoy.”
SHINTARO TAKAI - GRAPHICS & VFX DIRECTOR
I created the effects for the original FINAL FANTASY VII. Back then, the scope of development was so exorbitantly massive that I just threw myself into the tasks for which I was responsible, without even fully understanding what sort of game we were creating.
Near the final stages of development, when I finally tried playing the test version, I remember being surprised by the graphics and the depth of the story, as well as how fully realized it was, and I remember enjoying the game as a player. It’s been 22 years after that, and I’m participating in the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE project as a developer, and today, I’m able to experience the impact and fun similar to that of the previous title.
For the remake, I’ve mainly directed the effects section, while also crossing over into other sections for decisions and directions on overall graphics.
Among the many major games that are celebrated for their photorealistic graphics, FINAL FANTASY VII is a little different. Not only is it realistic, but I believe you’ll notice that it incorporates “playfulness” in the design and colours for an originality not found in other games. Effects are an area that is particularly conducive to expressing various elements of “playfulness.”
I hope you’ll enjoy various effects that are not only beautiful, but also convincingly portray realism and magic!! Various elements of game design and graphic design have been packed into every corner of the vast Midgar. I hope you enjoy it!!
TERUKI ENDO - BATTLE DIRECTOR
When I played the original version, I wasn’t on the game creation side of things, and I remember enjoying it as a player and feeling constant surprise at the evolution of games. The three-dimensionality of the stage and the dynamism of the battle scenes have left a strong impression on me. Back then, I never even imagined that I would someday be on the side of creating games, or that I would be able to be involved in that game.
Speaking to my own personal experience, I had mostly been creating action games thus far, so for this title, I took on the challenge of remaking a system that was not of an action game originally and incorporating action elements into it.
Production was completely different than that of a pure action game, and the need for new design philosophy often arose. Production involved constantly searching for the best balance between action and command elements, but I believe we’ve managed to do this in an exciting new way.
In order to create battles that are surprising and never boring, we worked hard to create a variety of strategic elements for each boss and enemy. Also, in constructing battle systems for each character, we wanted to respect the image of the original version while additionally introducing many new abilities. I hope you’re able to find your own style of battle by combining those abilities with Materia.
TAKAKO MIYAKE - ENVIRONMENT DIRECTOR
For FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, the graphics team worked to the theme of “how would Midgar look if it existed in real life?” As such, as the environments team, we examined those portions that were once left to the players’ imaginations, fell outside of the on-screen area, or were between scenes, and tried to supplement them in detail.
For all the fans out there, we worked our hardest in hopes that you’ll be able to relive an experience that also surpasses your memories.
For all of you who are playing for the first time, we worked our hardest with the sole hope that you’ll experience this amazing universe that has remained beloved by so many for 22 years, and to be able to convey its charm.
Additionally, in order to create a fitting backdrop for the drama unfolding around the main characters, and in order for it to be a stage where the various characters living in Midgar can be their vibrant selves, all of teams, including the environments section, came up with ideas and worked collaboratively. Midgar is a closed city. However, I would be very happy if by experiencing the drama unfolding around its residents and the main characters who go through it, you feel as though Midgar actually exists.
I am a FINAL FANTASY VII fan, so being able to take part in the Remake was something that made me happy but also nervous. It’s been an unforgettable development experience. I truly hope that everyone enjoys it.
IICHIRO YAMAGUCHI - LIGHTING DIRECTOR
FINAL FANTASY VII, for me, at the time when I was in school, was a very impactful game. It really pierced my heart as I was at such a sensitive age, with not only a rich story, but charming characters, world setting and music, not to mention that it was the first in the series to be in 3D polygon format. This was the piece that really brought out my interest in CG in general.
When I was able to join the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE team, I started by thinking back to how I felt when I first played it. Midgar, with its’ abundant mix of different elements and original characters like Cloud, became something unbreakable and the “standard” for me in FINAL FANTASY VII.
In the world of the game, just like in real life, if there is not some form of light then you won’t be able to see anything. So when putting up lights just anywhere, Midgar could lose its token Midgar-ness, and Cloud wouldn’t be Cloud anymore. I’ve taken as much care as possible to recreate the world that I had saved in my mind and attempted to remake it to a fresh and modern standard.
The positions of the few lights that illuminate the entirety of Midgar, the adjustments made to each and every voluminous cut-scene… it’s all a lot of work to do! However, alongside the rest of the wonderful lighting team we feel that we’ve brought something great to the table. We’ve left in the elements that will have you going “Ah, that’s what it was like!”, and yet you’ll still be able to enjoy the world of FINAL FANTASY VII in its new and fresh style!
MASAAKI KAZENO - CHARACTER MODELING DIRECTOR
I was amongst those who bought the original game on the day of its release and played it constantly, clearing it in under a week. Those that also have cleared it will understand this, but I also wasn’t quite satisfied with the locations, so I continued to play it after clearing in the same places as well.
And so, my memory of FINAL FANTASY VII was how I actually started studying CG, after being left with the strong motivation to want to create a FINAL FANTASY game when playing it and truly being moved by it.
So I just made my mind up and bought a PC to help me study – something that I had never even touched before. So for me, someone who had been so strongly influenced by the original, to be working on the characters of the remake, I want to do everything I can to make them in a way that shows both a charm and freshness whilst keeping that nostalgia.
So I want them to reflect in a fresh way that that also allows players of the original to remember the time that they played the original, as well as make them detailed and charming enough to give first-time players the understanding of just how charming they are.
I’ve ensured to arrange things like hairstyles and outfits to re-create the design from the original, so I encourage anyone to take time with their camera angles when playing to take a look. Also, there are several characters that stand out other than just the main characters that you’ll find. So please see for yourself as to what kind of appearance and characteristics they have! Other than that, we’ve got enemies in there perhaps too close to the original, and there are many surprises coming in the Remake for you to all look forward to! Keep your eyes out!
YOSHIYUKI SOMA - ANIMATION DIRECTOR
When FINAL FANTASY VII came out, I was actually more of a SEGA Saturn fan, so I didn’t play it straight away. However, when it was decided that I was to join SQUARE, I was put on the development of FINAL FANTASY VIII, and so I thought to myself “I’m screwed if I don’t know about FINAL FANTASY VII!”. That’s when I bought a PlayStation and played it so much.
Those memories feel like only yesterday. So I can’t say this too loudly, but I actually started it out of obligation rather than as a fan. However, I was absolutely enthralled by the world and lore as soon as I picked it up!
For the animations; each and every member of the team – from those responsible for battles, fields, simple events, cut scenes, mini-games, facial expressions, to swinging things in the background, actual behaviour settings - have all worked together to improve as one.
We’ve done our best to ensure that whatever you do, it feels like the characters are alive there with you. We really hope you enjoy the story of Midgar on a huge screen, with Cloud and his friends.
FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE reimagines the iconic RPG for the modern age.
It’s set in a world that has fallen under the influence of the Shinra Electric Power Company - a sinister corporation that controls the planet's life force as mako energy.
In the city of Midgar, the anti-Shinra organization Avalanche have recently stepped up their resistance. Cloud Strife, a mercenary and former member of Shinra's elite SOLDIER unit, lends his aid to the group, unaware of the consequences that await him.
The game launches for PS4 on 3 March, 2020, and you can preorder it now:
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