In a new video interview with French media site JeuxVideo, Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata discusses the ongoing development of the game, including the French voice cast, current development tasks, plans for post-release DLC and his thoughts on a PC version.
JeuxVideo: Tabata-san, what is it like to be at the head of this huge project?
Hajime Tabata: (Laughs) I never really thought about it, but now that you mention it, I feel wholly responsible for giving the public what I had promised.
JV: Will we get other demos after Platinum?
HT: No, nothing is planned for the moment.
JV: How many people work on the game now?
HT: It is difficult to estimate the number of people working on the project, but I would say that there are about 300. Final Fantasy XV and Kingsglaive are projects that require the production of a large volume of data, so we need work with many studios worldwide that are specialized in computer animation.
JV: How far along is Final Fantasy XV in its development?
HT: It’s hard to tell you exactly a percentage for the moment because we are in the localization phase. It was recently decided to include a French dub, for example. In any case, we have enough confidence to announce the release date, and we still have six months left.
JV: About the French localization, can you tell us more about the French voice actors? Are they famous?
HT: We want to use famous French actors and ask them to participate in the localization process. Most important for us is not the level of fame but if it is perfect for the role and if he’s the best to express all the emotions of the character. I think you’ll be pleased with our choices.
HT: There are actually CGI cinematics in the game. I think there are, however, a little less than in previous Final Fantasy games. Rather than having too many cutscenes in the game, our desire was to make a long feature film. Kingsglaive, to us, was the best use of CGI.
For me, video game fans in France are smart because they see a game as a cultural item. So I think the French will understand well what we are seeking to do through these separate but complementary stories of the game, the film and the animated series. I’m sure the French fans will appreciate the links between all these characters.
JV: What kind of things do you have to work on before the game’s release?
HT: At the moment, we are working hard on the final balancing between environments to refine the best adventure. We are also checking details such as the amount of experience earned as a result of certain actions, the time needed to gain a level, the power between the various weapons, and the speed of some animations. Engineers have already entered the phase of optimization and artists are concentrating on polishing.
JV: Many questions were asked about the framerate of the game. Several people saw the game running with a stable 30 frames per second in the Uncovered trailer and footage and were disappointed with the Platinum Demo. What have you to say to these players and will you improve the framerate?
HT: We are currently in a process of optimization and it is impossible to evaluate precisely how much time it will take. This is not something that you can tell in advance because you have to work on it until the very end of development. We must therefore strike a balance between what you show on the screen and at the same time consider what remains to optimize behind.
For Final Fantasy XV, we completed what should be [rendered] on screen, so we can now use our time to optimize the rest and ensure that the framerate is better. We’re currently working on it. We also want to be sure that the balance is done and there is no disjunction between the spirit of the game and the real experience of the player. This is why we strive to highlight the game’s feeling and not performance.
JV: We really liked the ability to transform the car into a flying car.
JV: We have some questions about it. Can we drive it quite normally? Press a button and we soar to new heights over the world map?
HT: That’s how it works. You must first customize the car to fly, then while you are driving, you just press a button to turn it into a flying car.
JV: So can we explore the Final Fantasy XV world without loading times — while driving a vehicle on the ground or flying in the air?
HT: We are currently tweaking it so that you are able to move from one environment to another without loading times. The final sequence of the recently released trailer showed that the car could easily fly. Well, we are working very hard to keep that promise.
JV: The players were very curious to know about Final Fantasy XV DLC? Can you tell us more? Will they be scenario or cosmetic DLC?
HT: We will make a concrete announcement on DLC later this summer. Our basic commitment about it is that they must be used to extend the gaming experience and ensure that players continue to play. We do not want basic DLC. Instead, we want DLC that can provoke the enthusiasm of players.
JV: You mentioned the possibility of a PC version. Will you release it a few months after the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions? Is it something you want to do at all?
HT: I’m quite positive about the idea of developing a PC version, but I would like to make a very different project if possible. The reason I’m interested is that a PC version would propel the game to another technical level. I have in mind a version of Final Fantasy XV that is more technically developed. This version could incorporate things that we were forced to abandon because of the limitations of home consoles. With the PC, this would be an opportunity to release a version far superior in terms of quality and tech. That said, if we choose to develop this project, the development will start from scratch by doing research of what would be the best technology to use. It might not be a simple port of the console version.
JV: Do you have a final message for jeuxvideo.com community?
HT: Among the jeuxvideo.com community, there are a lot of people who love Final Fantasy. With these kinds of fans, we’re able to develop a game Final Fantasy XV‘s scale. I really want to share this with them. During the Uncovered presentation in Los Angeles, Mr. Sakaguchi came on stage and said he was eager to discover more about Final Fantasy XV, including the challenges the team has to address. To me that means that my efforts were not in vain and it only reinforces my motivation to go through with it.
Final Fantasy XV will release worldwide on September 30th 2016 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.