Following a recent job posting to hire additional battle and level planners, Final Fantasy VII Remake Art Director & VFX Director Shintaro Takai sat down with CGWorld to give readers a bit of a retrospective on his work experience with the original title, as well as shared some details on the development team working on the remake.
One interesting piece of trivia in the interview is that very few staff members who worked on the original Final Fantasy VII are involved with the development of Final Fantasy VII Remake.
View Takai’s response below:
CGWorld: About how many people are there working on Final Fantasy VII Remake that previously participated in the development of Final Fantasy VII, such as yourself, Takai-san?
Shintaro Takai: “There are only a very few. Starting with producer Yoshinori Kitase-san, director Tetsuya Nomura-san, and scenario writer Kazushige Nojima-san, there’s only very few of us. Most of Final Fantasy VII Remake’s developers are those with experience on the Final Fantasy series after Final Fantasy VII along with new people who joined. We have a lot of people apply saying ‘I played Final Fantasy VII when I was a child and I really liked it so I want to be a part of it.’ It seems like Final Fantasy VII is a bit of a special title even among game developers.”
Since the devleopment team is, in every way, aiming to surpass the quality of the original game, Takai continues on the discussion detailing how he, in particular, is supporting the next generation of developers to push their work to overall produce a title that is more than just a conventional remake.
Check out his responses below:
CGWorld: Fans who were left with a big impression at the time may particularly have big expectations from Final Fantasy VII Remake. Takai-san, what are some of the things you’re thinking about keeping or changing from Final Fantasy VII?
Shintaro Takai: “That’s a difficult question. I don’t really think about ‘This is how Final Fantasy VII did it, so let’s do it like this for Final Fantasy VII Remake.’ Back when Final Fantasy VII was being developed, I didn’t think as deeply about effects as I do today. For example, let’s say when a certain enemy in Final Fantasy VII attacked they would shoot out red fire, but maybe there wasn’t much meaning behind that red color. If it were today, I would think more along the lines of ‘This enemy was born here or there, they use these kinds of weapons, because of the energy source it shoots out red fire, and explodes with smoke.’ Even if that’s not part of the official setting, I would take it upon myself to come up with a reason and story. So the representation from back then and today are not necessarily directly connected.”
So you’re saying that you won’t just take the world of Final Fantasy VII and reproduce it using today’s technology.
Takai: “While it can’t be something that will make fans of Final Fantasy VII feel like ‘something is off,’ we can’t just simply increase the graphics quality either. I want us to make it with deep thoughts. For example, I tell the effects designers that if they’re going to heal using Cure, instead of just making shiny particles ‘Make it energy around a character that can’t be seen but is being collectively visualized and absorbed into their body as light.’ I will tell them to think of stories like that while working on it.”
You previously mentioned that there were many cases of Final Fantasy VII Remake’s developers say in their application that they played Final Fantasy VII when they were kids, but what about you personally, what thoughts did you have going into the development of Final Fantasy VII Remake?
Takai: “Personally speaking, Final Fantasy VII Remake is a title that has a sense of generational change to it. Those who grew up playing Final Fantasy VII are now developers of Final Fantasy VII Remake, and they’re gradually taking on more important roles. They are the ones I want to see give Final Fantasy VII a new shape. This time around my role is looking over the art direction as a whole as well as deciding on bigger specifications, and my focus is to create a work environment that makes it easier for everyone, so I want to make it a field that allows the younger guys to be more active. I say younger but they’re mostly in their early-30s, and while they’re more aged than they were in the past, I believe they’re people with plenty of activity to offer.”
For such a young generation developing Final Fantasy VII Remake, what skills or abilities would you say are required?
Takai: “We’re not exactly looking for those with knowledge on Final Fantasy VII, so they don’t need to be too eager about that. “Doing this would make it more Final Fantasy VII-esque” is something that is difficult to put into words, and I think that’s a part that Kitase, Nomura, and I will be handling. Rather than that, I believe it would be easier for those with knowledge on the latest 3DCG and tools, or on the graphics quality of global hit AAA titles.”
So basically, those who might say “I don’t have much experience playing Final Fantasy VII, but I want to polish my career by working on a game with worldwide expectations” might have a chance?
Takai: “Yes. What’s important is that person’s technique, sense, and will. Actually, among the current designers of the effects team, there are some who hardly even played Final Fantasy VII. Well, they at least know character names and the gist of the story [laughs]. Final Fantasy VII Remake’s development structure is already solidifying the core parts, but since the effects are something that we aim to raise the quality until the very last process of development, I believe there’s still plenty of room for activity.”
Final Fantasy VII Remake is currently in development for PlayStation 4.