Final Fantasy XV Director Hajime Tabata Talks Remakes, Challenges, End of Series

The Hardcore Gamer staff recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Final Fantasy XV’s game director, Hajime Tabata. We talked about the process of the game’s development, the struggles and successes they’ve had and even a few fun (and totally highly important) facts towards the end.

Our time talking to Tabata-san was great. We had an amazing translator and Tabata-san himself was an interesting and charming guy all around. But don’t take our word for it, see for yourself:

[Hardcore Gamer] This is your first console game for the Final Fantasy series. How has that been for you?

[Hajime Tabata] Yeah, it is definitely something that I’ve never experienced before in terms of the scale and the amount, the volume, like it’s so great and beyond what I can even grasp. It’s the first time I’ve felt this way developing a game. And you know, personally, actually finally getting to experience developing this type of open world, HD RPG, we really got a grasp of how hard it is developing this type of game, and also kind of in awe all the kind of western studios that have been developing these, like, massive western RPGs. So I’m probably one of very few Japanese people that have been able to experience this firsthand.

You worked on a lot of the mobile Final Fantasy games, did you take inspirations from those games and put them in Final Fantasy XV?

Yeah, definitely, for sure. I believe there are a lot of instances where I’ve drawn from my experiences working on those titles, especially in terms of how we structure the production. So, Final Fantasy XV is a very big scale production, so to speak, and the flexibility that sometimes we have working on a smaller scale or a mid-scale, we tried to bring that into a bigger production this time around.

What are some of the Final Fantasy games that inspired XV?

So with regards to any other type of I guess Final Fantasy titles that inspired this game, you know all Final Fantasy titles for sure, because all of these beloved elements from the series, we tried to take that and kind of restructure it based on newer technology and newer methodologies and implement it within this game and kind of really create this new image of what a Final Fantasy title should be. And so for this particular title, we really wanted to insure that people who aren’t accustomed to JRPGs for example, people who aren’t generally interested in other types of games that they would also give it a go and see for themselves and really be surprised, or excited, or amazed by that experience as well. So that was one of our approaches to this game.

Because you went from doing the smaller Final Fantasy games, what were some of the challenges that came with doing the big console game?

So it’s kind of like a kind of intrinsic difference, up until right now, it seems like what we’re creating right now is one big amusement park, and then what I had been creating could be considered as an attraction or like one attraction within that massive theme park. So that’s kind of the general feel. And another big aspect that was kind of a first time for us was that this was going to be a global simultaneous release, and we had from the get go set out to ensure that it would be a global simultaneous release, so from the marketing and the development side as well, both of us made sure that we had our appropriate global channels to deliver on that global simultaneous release, and that was the first time that we were kind of trying that out as well.

A lot of people on the current development team, we have some development members that have worked on the handheld titles as well as some of the major Final Fantasy releases from the past, and there was a lot that they needed to overcome and exceed in their own experiences as well, working on this project. And given this time, unlike previous titles where the Japanese release would precede the overseas release, and unlike creating a handheld game of a particular size, this time around it was going to be placed in front of the American and European western fans as well and really be exposed to those fans, which that, you know, being exposed comes with various opinions that could come about from consumers or people who are following the news surrounding this game. And so that in itself was a new experience and that really toughened us up as well, and all in all, all of that became a great learning experience for us. Including all of the elements pertaining to the technical aspects of the game as well. So we all kind of took that in.

With this being the most graphically and technically complex Final Fantasy, would you consider remaking any of the other titles with this kind of new technology?

Honestly speaking, not at the moment, because we are purely focused on finalizing and finishing Final Fantasy XV and bringing it to the finish line. Personally, I prefer to make new titles over remakes or whatnot.

If this were to be the final Final Fantasy, would you be satisfied, or are there some loose ends you’d still want to tie up?

So, I mean, we had asked for the two month extension this time around to ensure that I’d be perfectly satisfied with what we deliver, and so if someone does say that this is the end of Final Fantasy, I personally would be satisfied. Personally! That said, we’re developing Final Fantasy XV to ensure that people who actually play the game, they’ll also want to see where the series takes them next, and so in that sense, I don’t think that this will be the end of it. And especially because we garnering a new fan base in North America and Europe as well, so it’s hard to see that happening.

One of your first games was Monster Rancher 2. If someone put a Final Fantasy XV disc into the game, what monster do you think it would spawn?

I’m not sure what would appear! But then that can only read CDs, so it won’t be able to read any monsters with a Blu-ray disc. You mentioned that it was Monster Rancher, but it’s actually Monster Farm in Japan, and that made me realize how we weren’t really creating it for the global market back then. We were really kind of focused on creating that game for the Japanese market and then that was actually localized elsewhere and then released overseas. It just made me realize how we weren’t that globally focused back then when creating Monster Rancher or Monster Farm.

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