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The Future of Final Fantasy - Editorial

MacstormMacstorm Ysy St.Administrators
edited December 2012 in Latest Updates
Final Fantasy always sparks debate, as the series is either "dying" or "the greatest thing ever." Lay your thoughts on past games aside as we look toward the future of the series.

Editorial
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Comments

  • JitawaJitawa Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    Great editorial. It distills a lot of what I (and probably many old Square fans I'd imagine) feel with respect to the franchise of our youth. It's awkward in some ways. Sometimes a developer can seriously let you down (Dragon Age 2, etc.) and it can turn you off to their work.

    In Square's case, it's more like they've lacked output in general this entire console generation. That's true of seeing material from pretty much all of their franchises, but Final Fantasy in particular has been... yeah. NES - FF1, 2, 3. SNES - FF4, 5, 6, PS1 = FF7, 8, 9, PS2 - FFX, XI(sorta), XII (debatably X-2), and... now.. XIII and XIII-2.

    I'm not upset at Square exactly. They're more like a friend that doesn't visit so much anymore.
  • MurMur New Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    From my point of view that Square's past strengths are its future weaknesses. It poured everything in graphics and it paid off in the past but now its adding years on development time for little gain (When you are on a desert island, if someone gave you one apple the benefit is great but if you had 50 apple, adding only one extra does not give that much benefit) and what Square needs to focus on style similar to the re-releases of FF1-3 with more simplified art that still looks graphically appeasing but should not take long to create.

    Square also needs to focus on the story, they are not as bad as other developers but what I find that really kills square is the -END- of the story, they often trail off.

    In my opinion the future of Final Fantasy should be...
    1. Big console release: This has a lot of focus and can take years to produce like normal FF games
    2. Reduced graphics released: This is similar to the remake of FF3 but with new story and possibly have new battle systems and still looks pretty good, should take less time to produce that previous titles
    3. Re-releases / Episodic games: These are cash grabs that can be done by third party studios that can take previous battle systems and remake older games.

    I would love to see a few more retro 16-bit FF games.
  • TG BarighmTG Barighm Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    I'd still like to see a game where the FF summons are the characters and not just summons or NPCs. Who would they summon? Their ancestors, I guess.
  • NevegaNevega Where's the Casino??? Full Members
    edited November 2012
    I think the FF series could completely revive the JRPG genre with the right game. But the catch is that it must be related to FFVII much more so than a mere spin-off.
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  • scorpio_7scorpio_7 Tactic's Ogre I choose u! Full Members
    edited November 2012
    Great editorial that sums up a lot of my thoughts about square. I ultimately feel like the company has "lost its way"... and needs to find a way back to things that have worked well in their games, and been popular with the fans.

    In the case of FF I feel like "innovation" has been more destructive to the franchise than positive. I understand that with each new title they want to do something unique... but when your attempts at being unique falls flat or met with great resistance... it's time to go back a revive or re-invent gameplay/battle systems that worked well.
  • retrodragonretrodragon Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    I would say that I feel Square Enix has always done a better job of innovative battle systems, interesting worlds, and exciting stories than any other rpg franchise. And while they development cycle has become too long for sure, I would much rather see new titles come out, and less spin offs, even on the retro end of things. At this point is there even any old school FF's that havn't seen a fresh port of some kind?

    I have my favorites and my least favorites just like everyone else. But one thing I think we all agree on is that when the first trailer for the next console FF comes out its all were going to talk about:)
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  • LOLOttertardLOLOttertard Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    I mostly agree with the editorial, that FF doesn't need to return to its "glory days." I hope they can get over the development hell of their major titles, and while delayed releases can eventually be good, bad games are bad forever.
  • Iliya MoroumetzIliya Moroumetz Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    This is probably just my opinion alone, but quite a bit of the blame for Square's lack of success comes from its design. And who's been the one in charge during the times when things have not been good? Tetsuya Nomura and his belt fetish. Seriously, the guy needs to in a place where his influence does not touch the visual design.

    Because the problem, the way I see it, lies with the fact that they need to expand their usual target audience from the one that they've been working with for the longest time: Japanese Teenage Boys. I mean, what I wouldn't give to have an experienced protagonist that's in their 30s instead of some sullen, sulky teenager/early 20-something.
  • SiliconNooBSiliconNooB Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    Macstorm, you keep misspelling 'Tabata' as 'Habata'.
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  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    edited November 2012
    SiliconNooB said:
    Macstorm, you keep misspelling 'Tabata' as 'Habata'.
    Thanks for catching that. I'd blame my mild dyslexia, but I think I was just trying to give him a nickname.
    "The universe is already mad. Anything else would be redundant."
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  • DarkRPGMasterDarkRPGMaster A Witness to Destruction Moderators
    edited November 2012
    Iliya Moroumetz said:
    This is probably just my opinion alone, but quite a bit of the blame for Square's lack of success comes from its design. And who's been the one in charge during the times when things have not been good? Tetsuya Nomura and his belt fetish. Seriously, the guy needs to in a place where his influence does not touch the visual design.

    Because the problem, the way I see it, lies with the fact that they need to expand their usual target audience from the one that they've been working with for the longest time: Japanese Teenage Boys. I mean, what I wouldn't give to have an experienced protagonist that's in their 30s instead of some sullen, sulky teenager/early 20-something.
    So you're blaming the lack of success on the artist's design, and not the director or the storywriters? There's so much wrong there that I'll just chalk it up to you having a weird opinion.
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  • TG BarighmTG Barighm Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    He does touch on a valid concern. A lot of people got into FF during the FF7-9 years primarily on the strength of the cool CG's, so don't be surprised when a lot of those graphics lovers lose interest simply because the characters don't look cool anymore. Heck, check enough Western-themed forums and you start to think that's the PRIMARY reason western gamers don't like JRPG's (that and the whiny protaganist thing). Mass appeal through art design is a very real and practical concept.

    Of course, I also agree the fault lies in Square directing, but that's because of their target audience. The thing is I don't think most people realize they're not just targeting Japanese teenage boys, but Japanese in general (at least my sister is very adamant of the general eccentricity of Japanese culture, not just the young boys). That's just what you're gonna get when it comes to Japanese games (and that's tame in comparison to some of the hardcore local stuff). Yeah, it's strange, but they think we're strange.
  • OrsonFuryOrsonFury Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    I've been following this debate about Square for over a year or so... I thought I'd finally weigh in my opinion. First off, kudos to the OP - interesting opinion read on the state of the Final Fantasy series. Through all the decades the series has seen quite a bit of innovation from number release to the next successor. I agree mostly with the sentiments that the innovation has stalled with the hyper-focus on graphics and the cost it takes to develop the next gen game. I agree outsourcing the expensive work would help, but only if the story is polished first.

    I would like to see the creators start with a clean white board (if you will) with fresh talent with fresh ideas on where they could take the story, gameplay, graphics in a new direction. Someone needs to come into the company that understands gamer culture, trends with a macro picture outlook and shake up the company structure. Think Steve Jobs when he returned to Apple to jumpstart their culture and products.

    Some critical questions to their developers and creative writers: How will the Final Fantasy series stay relevant in a new generation environment? What's their target age audience now? How does it lure successful western gamers that are mainstreamed here (i.e. Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, GTA, Call of Duty)? How does it lure casual gamers in addition to their core legacy rpgamers? It would also help them to understand their world is a gaming environment and not just Japanese culture like a post above mentioned? Learning from their mistakes in recent years would help too. Don't announce too many titles or over commit to too many projects if you can't financially commit the time and production costs into the product. Consider scaling back projects to make a well polished game instead of cheap turn over profits like web or mobile based games, ports, re-releases to make an unique console gaming experience.

    Finally, consider making demos or working alpha/beta versions of games that aren't announced to focus groups to play. Make notes of comments, frustrations, compliments and work those ideas back into the product. Then when their satisfied with the results from the testing group, then announce that a title is in the works. That will help the major time drain in waiting for the product to be localized internationally. Quality over quantity. I do have to compliment them on FFXIV "realm reborn" and FFXIII-2,3 adjustments in recent years. You can tell their listening to gamers finally and adding the feedback into improving their products after backlash from FFXIII.

    Square Enix had a Final Fantasy formula that worked well for them for decades, but now it needs to think out of the box. Kind of like how Disney movies were stagnating until Pixar came around and started to make hit after hit after Toy Story. Pixar revitalized Disney. Someone and/or company needs to revitalize Square.

    I've been a fan of squaresoft since their early days when I first played Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana. I'll stay a fan, but with a watchful eye.
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  • RealityCheckedRealityChecked Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    Jitawa said:
    I'm not upset at Square exactly. They're more like a friend that doesn't visit so much anymore.
    Or like growing apart from someone you care about.

    I’m not sure what defines a FF game anymore, but I’d rather SE retire the title and just develop “new” RPG (which is what they are doing anyway, just slapping a FF name on it). Then we could close the book on a storied franchise without diluting it anymore (i.e., I’d rather not see FFXIX-III).

    I’m confident SE can still make great RPG, but at some point, sad as it may be for us who grew up with them, FF needs to live up to its name.
  • SiliconNooBSiliconNooB Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    IMO, Square needs to hire back all the great game designers that they've lost, and then bury Toriyama and Kawuzu in land-fill and pour cement in on top of them...

    Yeah, the old Squaresoft isn't coming back. Ever.
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  • SlayerSlayer Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    I think they should make traditional FF games in a manner similar to DQ games.
    DQ hasn't changed much in many years (except X) and I want the same from FF.
    If you want to try new things like 13, 13-2, then call it something else.
    I liked 13, but not 13-2.
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  • TG BarighmTG Barighm Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    I think they should make traditional FF games in a manner similar to DQ games. DQ hasn't changed much in many years (except X) and I want the same from FF.

    DQ needs to get the save points out of the churches and use shiny orbs like every other RPG on the planet.
    Well now, there's your problem. XD
  • WonderjoshWonderjosh New Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    I've always enjoyed the assigned "jobs" of VI and IX. Something about it, to me, lends more depth to the characters as the classes are unique to their characters and a lot of time affects they way they interact with each other or NPC's or what have you. I mean seriously, a young womanizing machinist king of a desert-burrowing castle who specializes in crazy bad-*** power tools, or a rusty washed-up knight with a hardy loyalty but annoying over-attachment issues are a couple of character types that give more to the story. Of course if the characters are developed well enough themselves, I guess their jobs shouldn't have to necessarily play into it so much, but it does seem to add a touch more depth or added flair when they are.

    The ability to let all characters eventually learn every skill special fighter attacks to black magic, I find, ruins the unique identifications of the characters that I come to get to know so well (as long as the writers do their job well enough). And really the unique class assignment is only one of the things that I'd personally love to see return.

    I'd also love a main antagonist that I can feel a seething righteous anger toward! I've felt Squaresoft/Square-Enix has dropped the ball in that regard since VI, but that's simply because I'm biased in favor of VI, haha. Kefka was a crazy, hateful homicidal maniac nut job that actually *SPOILER! FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN'T PLAYED IT, DON'T READ FURTHER*
    Spoiler:
    destroys the world AND attains godhood halfway through the game
    *END OF SPOILER* and will forever be my favorite archenemy because of it.

    Anyway, those are two of my cents!

    EDIT: Thanks for the spoiler tags ;) Haha
  • bigmark268bigmark268 New Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    Just my two cents here. But what i really want from FF is more well, fantasy and less scifi lol. Thats a minor issue though.

    I also would prefer to have more JRPG oriented combat as opposed to the more action rpg'esque stuff they keep throwing at us. I look at turn based or ATB combat as a good solid game of chess. Planning three or four moves ahead while also reacting to whats happening right now.

    And whats up with this thing of not having control of all party members. Rpgamers are on the smarter end of the gamer scale. We can think quite a bit more then then a derpy bro-gamer. Four and five player parties were great!
  • WonderjoshWonderjosh New Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    bigmark268 said:
    Just my two cents here. But what i really want from FF is more well, fantasy and less scifi lol. Thats a minor issue though.

    I also would prefer to have more JRPG oriented combat as opposed to the more action rpg'esque stuff they keep throwing at us. I look at turn based or ATB combat as a good solid game of chess. Planning three or four moves ahead while also reacting to whats happening right now.

    And whats up with this thing of not having control of all party members. Rpgamers are on the smarter end of the gamer scale. We can think quite a bit more then then a derpy bro-gamer. Four and five player parties were great!
    I agree completely. I very much miss the ATB/turn based battles (not the random battle encounters though). I personally don't care for new and inventive battle engines, especially with the more action-oriented direction they've been moving toward. I tend to get tired of battling OVER and OVER again *cough* FF XIII *cough cough* and would rather explore and get more plot and sub-plot and character development out of the game, so innovative battle engines aren't something that I particularly look forward to. Give me the traditional engine as long as it functions as it should. Added bells and whistles are great, though, don't get me wrong, but having a new battle engine every single game now is getting ridiculous.

    I do enjoy the steampunkish form of sci-fi (if steampunk can be appropriately grouped with sci-fi?) that they have incorporated in some/most FFs, but I'd rather not have a modern-day or future stage set for a Final Fantasy. Most have done a good job for setting though. VII, VIII and XIII didn't feel very "Final Fantasy" to me, but different strokes for different folks?

    I also miss the overworld and airship cruising, especially when there's a secret island not marked on the map to be found with some crazy event or hidden treasure on it. I could be getting nitpicky with all these points though, haha. But I guess it's these things that have defined Final Fantasy for myself and lately it seems they're making FFs that aren't so FF-esque.

    I suppose it should be known my catalyst into the Final Fantasy series was FFVI(III in NA for SNES), so that's kind of been the standard to which I compare all subsequent FFs to. So I'm a little biased, haha. BUT I understand that a lot of people played VII as their first, so that's the one that pulls their heartstrings and would prefer FFs to be reminiscent of that one. So I understand and I do respect the feeling!
  • ScarScar Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    Good read.

    I stopped caring about FF games after 13 came around and looked like eye candy garbage. People might say FF7 was the turning point in the series, where it brought praise and recognition finally started to pour out to a series that was severely underground beforehand. I like to think of FF7 as the game that ruined Final Fantasy forever. After 7 (which I liked enough...) Squaresoft gave us FF8 which was one of the most Gawd awful games I had ever played. They continued this graphical upgrading, because lord knows we play these games for all the shiny nonsense thrown in front of our eyes.

    FF7 was the beginning of the end. The company found something that sold better then anything they had ever pumped out before. It was a great thing for them, and a bad thing for the people that enjoyed good, quality gaming.

    I mean, FF used to be one of the greatest RPG chains ever....EVER! Now it's a complete joke. The company stopped caring about its product and now only cares about how much money each new title can bring in. Let's not forget about FF7 as being one of the companies hugest cash cows. What have the made...like 30 spin offs to the game? And, yeah, they keep taunting fanboys with a possible re-release of the game for a new system!

    I know I sound bitter, but I really hate the way the company has used the Final fantasy title and bludgeoned all that was good with the series for pop filler crap. It was funny to see FF14 fail so badly, that they had to send everyone an apology and re-make the game! Now the online game has a jump function, yay!

    One day, maybe the people responsible for making decisions in SE will actually try when making a new game, but for now I can only sit back and shake my head every time I see these new installments.
  • Iliya MoroumetzIliya Moroumetz Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    DarkRPGMaster said:
    So you're blaming the lack of success on the artist's design, and not the director or the storywriters? There's so much wrong there that I'll just chalk it up to you having a weird opinion.
    I didn't say it was the sole reason why. However, you have to admit that the designs of the many characters have a tendency to follow a similar theme: Belts. Lots of unnecessary belts. Also, it's pretty safe to say that Squall and Cloud are pretty similar. Both don't talk much. Angst excessively. And have all the likability of a cardboard cut out.

    I mean, compare the casts of Final Fantasy 6 to Final Fantasy 8 and you'll see a gargantuan gap. I mean, there's huge variety in the backgrounds, motivations, and character growth with the crew of 6. You don't get that with 8, since most of the cast are teenagers and mysteriously all come from the same orphanage, which they conveniently forget about. So, while you are correct that their choice of story direction bears some of blame, the design of the world and its characters bears some of it as well.
  • DarkRPGMasterDarkRPGMaster A Witness to Destruction Moderators
    edited November 2012
    I've always found it weird that people actually consider the design of characters and areas when playing a game. You're there for the ride, so why bother getting picky with how the ride looks?
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  • Iliya MoroumetzIliya Moroumetz Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    DarkRPGMaster said:
    I've always found it weird that people actually consider the design of characters and areas when playing a game. You're there for the ride, so why bother getting picky with how the ride looks?
    Because people are different and people actually like design? Hard to imagine, I know.
  • DravDrav A Serious Man Full Members
    edited November 2012
    As far as I care (not much), the best way for Square Enix to go forward with the series is to do the same thing the Assassin's Creed guys doing; release one good game towards the beginning of the console generation (this part is important), then release two sequels that are mostly similar mechanically, but in different settings. So basically do what they were doing in 1997 (and really, 1991), before they lost their minds and started making completely different games with completely different tech all the time. Forget about Versus XIII and Fabula Nova Whatthe****ever; the only thing people give less of a **** about in 2012 than Final Fantasy is Kingdom Hearts.
  • tilinelson2tilinelson2 New Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    I think that the problem with Final Fantasy is that when games were much alike because of hardware constraints, people used to love their small innovations. Now that the games can do almost anything their creators want, people doesn't want Final Fantasy to be innovative anymore. They want the games to "be like FFVI, FFVII and Chrono Trigger".

    Maybe, as Slayer said, they should take the Dragon Quest route for Final Fantasy. Not because Square Enix can't deliver good titles anymore, but because the innovations they seek for their newer games are not appealing to their longtime fans. And Square Enix is not so relevant anymore to make their games appeal to the newer audience in the west.
  • DravDrav A Serious Man Full Members
    edited November 2012
    The "every game is wildly different" approach has never made any sense to me. All it's basically meant is that every game since FFVII (besides IX) has been horribly unbalanced, needlessly complicated, and alienated half the fanbase. It's always seemed like more of an attempt to roll out a new set of buzzwords (limit breaks! Sphere grid! Gambits!) than an honest attempt to improve anything.
  • SiliconNooBSiliconNooB Member Full Members
    edited November 2012
    IMO, they need to try to do another FFIX.

    Nothing fancy, just solid design and charming world-view; a project to help them re-connect with the fundamentals of the series.

    If they can't get that right, then perhaps it's time to shut up shop and divert their internal resources to Eidos.
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  • DravDrav A Serious Man Full Members
    edited November 2012
    I think it goes without saying that new Final Fantasy games aren't nearly as important as new Deus Ex games.
  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    edited November 2012
    SiliconNooB said:
    IMO, they need to try to do another FFIX.

    Nothing fancy, just solid design and charming world-view; a project to help them re-connect with the fundamentals of the series.

    If they can't get that right, then perhaps it's time to shut up shop and divert their internal resources to Eidos.
    Nail hit on head. This is exactly what they need to do...and I don't think we'll ever see it. :(
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