FFXV's inherent independence from XIII, a story through branding and development.

injurai

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I had gotten tired of people equating FFXV as being part of XIII due to it's former name of VersusXIII. After making various one off responses I thought I would finally do the subject service and flesh out all the details.


Preface: Every Final Fantasy game has an underlying crystal mythos in addition to mechanics and enemy archetypes which form the defining elements of the series. Each game wove its own story around the crystals and what they meant for the world. In 2004, 17 years since the series' inception and 11 mainline titles launched, Kazushige Nojima began working on a new crystal mythos. It took him approximately a year to complete, whilst taking input from Tetsuya Nomura and Hajime Tabata who were collectively planning and laying the groundwork for their collective next project. Additional input and watchers include Shinji Hashimoto, Yoshinori Kitase, and Motomu Toriyama. Overall it was almost entirely Nojima who penned the mythos while giving consideration to the FF series at large and how it could used for his upcoming project.

Fabula Nova Crystallis: The mythos was designed to primarily be an internal design compendium from which individual directors could interpret and appropriate freely. This is not too different from how previous games approached the mythos, but FNC sought to provide a lore of much greater complexity which could be drawn on to convey the relations between the crystals and the world. Square remained tight lipped over FNC's details, and sought to take down leaks from closed door presentations. It wasn't until 2011 that a further insight into the basics of the mythos were presented. A full book of the mythos exists as written by Nojima, and spends most of its time sealed away in some cabinet, only periodically referenced.

New projects: Before FNC had been penned, the initial concept for FFXIII was developed by the FFX-2 International team. It was originally planned to be a PS2 game. In May 2005 around the time FNC was finalized, FFXIII development moved to the PS3. The team restarted making assets from scratch, writing was altered to fit under the FNC umbrella. While KH2 was finishing up its development, much of that team was planning and entering into pre-production on a new Final Fantasy project as it was mostly the programmers remaining on final touches. This Nomura/Tabata/Nojima project at the time was still almost entirely in pre-production, having spent time mocking up aesthetic and Nojima scenario writing from his mythos. The intentions of the project included developing a Final Fantasy game which would expand on the gameplay concepts introduced by the Kingdom Hearts series.

The FFXIII Branding: Square had found unprecedented success in FFVII which included a handful of spin-off titles. We saw X becoming the first mainline game to receive a direct sequel. It was no surprised Square was looking to recreate previous successes. A marketing decision was made to redefine the FNC connection as a connection to the new mainline game FFXIII. Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy XIII became the name of Square's new marketing initiative. The Nomura/Tabata/Nojima project due to its use of the KHs combat was not at this time under consideration of being a mainline title. XIII was a half step to bring action elements into the gameplay. To contrast the two completely different games, working off the mythos in completely separate ways it was decided that the project would become FFversusXIII. From the start, the projects were unrelated except for XIII redefining itself under FNC, with VersusXIII as the antithesis of the former. In addition another Tabata project was started to create a mobile game in Japan that would be part of FNC. This became known as Final Fantasy Agito XIII.

FFXIII Development Hell: The development faced countless problems. The game bolstered the largest development team of any previous FF game, and has been cited as having a severe lack of a unified vision. At the time of its reveal they had only settled on a single visual concept and the team had no playable game to show. Development followed to explicitly recreate a game that played like their cinematic. The battle system changed several times over. The team wanted to resolve western criticisms of jrps being too linear and lacking controllable action. But in order to keep development a secret they avoided international player testing until it was too late. Neither the engine's specs nor the game's could be finalized as requests came from left and right over what the game should be. At this time the cell processor was particularly challenging for the team, and standstills were countless as engine tech and tools failed to match what people wished to work on. In the end enough content was scrapped to make another game and stark linearity of design remained. The game caused a handful of employee departures who were fed up with their wasted contributions.

Rebranding: With internal acknowledgement of the complications over XIII's development, including the switch to multi-platform development. It was decided as early as 2007 that FFversusXIII should be rebranded. It was a multifaceted decision, in part to avoid potential dilution of Nomura's project over the uncertainty that was XIII. But in addition the title was PS3 exclusive which conflicted with marketing the multi-platform XIII as a whole. The project was initially independent, and once again was allowed to return to it's own identity. This next bit is merely speculation on my part, but I would guess they kept these decisions internal as to not dilute the public's perception surrounding the FFXIII project during the time of hype before it's release (i.e. maintain marketing momentum.) This decision to separate the two titles also fits with the operation plans of the XIII team. They had enough content to make another XIII game, and upon criticism it only made sense for them to take another stab in order to somehow rectify the semblance that XIII lost (we know how this actually turned out.) Having VersusXIII remain would only further dilute both itself and the now planned XIII-2. In 2011 Agito was the first to be rebranded as Final Fantasy Type-0 and was released on the PSP. That title has it's own interesting history which brought it to being one of the most acclaimed portable games of last-gen... (but only for Japan... grr.)

Final Fantasy XV: Despite all the pre-production, asset creation, art design, and more. Versus never so much got passed various alpha-mockups stages. Square was busy with new ventures into mobile, the continuing mainstay of portables, the XIII-sequels, Eidos, and notably XIV which became their largest project ever. Then when that failed they pulled nearly every other studio into a mega-team to create XIV (2.0). It wasn't until 2010 when Square Enix 1st Production Department started on FFXV's development with over 7 years of planning to work off of. After a year of fleshing out the games systems and world (almost all of it was laid out) it was decided in 2011 that the game would be moved to cross-gen development, and then exclusively next-gen development. This was the year that the production team hit the ground running. It was in 2013 when the re-reveal officially announced that FFversusXIII was now Final Fantasy XV, and would be multiplatform to both the PS4 and Xbox One. Square has acknowledged the changing tastes from both western and Japanese audiences, and that this will be the first full step towards an action oriented mainline FF game. They remained open to the prospects of still yet returning to conventional ATB and turn based mechanics mainline titles farther down the road. But with Bravely Default serving as a spiritual successor to FFV, and portables serving as the new home to turn based jrpgs, it only made sense this long coming game cut from a new cloth would become the newest mainline entry. Currently XV is being developed on DirectX 11 and runs on high-spec PCs. It is yet to be confirmed if the game will come out on PC, Nomura said that would be explored if there was enough demand.

Closing Remarks: FFXV's struggled development has mostly been a result of incompetence and mismanagement over resources elsewhere in the company. XV routinely became the go to game to be delayed as it was the least progressed in development. Of course this only further its state. Overall XV's team holds some of Square's most reliable and patient talent, and its comparatively concise production team has kept the project from ballooning like many other intermittent projects at Square. Just as FF1 was a hail mary by the company pulling out their absolute best, XV could potentially be serve a very similar purpose to rekindle both the brand and fan trust. It's understandable that many are upset and hesitant, but those who have closely followed the development seem to remain more optimistic as they see that both the team and Shinji Hashimoto's production have worked to protect this project from unraveling. Chances are this is coming late 2015, possibly spring 2016 in the west. Until then we can only speculate if it will be good, and hopefully now you're educated to the state of this project.



If you're all the way down here you either didn't read, or just finished.
Here is some set theory for those who couldn't bother reading, or are saving this wall-o-text for later. As you can see the two are mutually exclusive within FNC.

Also big thanks for FFgaf who made me take interest in this games development. It was time to take a closer look.
 
Jul 22, 2007
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Sigh, that just reminds me that the only way to play Agito in english is through a fan translation : / I hope that SE notices how well FFX/FFX2HD are doing both on the vita and on the PS3 and they throw us a freaking bone here. I'm envious of those who can pick up Bravely Default on the 3ds.
 

Reaganomics

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XV may be the Final Fantasy game to get me interested in the series, the visuals are very impressive and the few snippets of video I have seen hasn't disappointed me yet.
 

Kyon

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It was never gonna be like XIII it's not even the same team but idiots who didn't do their research just assumed. Not their fault cause Square giving it the XIII name at first so XV name is a good start to ending that thinking.
 

badcrumble

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They've said it's still drawing on the FNC mythology (ugh - I'm sick of hearing the words L'Cie and Fal'Cie). But yeah it's not in any sense an FFXIII spinoff.
 

140.85

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Jun 6, 2006
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I'm interested in this. I still wish they would drop the Kpop boy band hairstyles.
 

Gaz_RB

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I didn't know Cloud was going to appear in FFXV
He's a summon.




Lightning too. She's actually the main antagonist.

Gonna be a weird game

I just hope the GAME part exists between all the spectacle and set pieces
Same thing I'm worried about. Looks more like COD: FF than FF13 is.

I've yet to see anything that looks like it could be actual gameplay. Concept is awesome though.
 
Apr 19, 2011
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You acknowledge that XV has been through the parallel hells of mismanagement and lack of solidified vision that infested XIII, but you have faith that this time it'll be different based on...what, exactly? The personnel?

Square remained tight lipped over FNC's details, and sought to take down leaks from closed door presentations. It wasn't until 2011 that a further insight into the basics of the mythos were presented. A full book of the mythos exists as written by Nojima, and spends most of it's time sealed away in some cabinet, only periodically referenced.
To this date this DaVinci Code secrecy shrouding the FNC mythos and the shifting of the storytelling from gameplay to an in-game appendix strikes me as a huge, dumb failure. It's eroded my faith tremendously in SE's ability to engage the player to care about the characters and the world around them.
 

KoopaTheCasual

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I'm interested in this. I still wish they would drop the Kpop boy band hairstyles.
You can't have Final Fantasy without fabulous hair!~*~*~
He's a summon.




Lightning too. She's actually the main antagonist.



Same thing I'm worried about. Looks more like COD: FF than FF13 is.

I've yet to see anything that looks like it could be actual gameplay. Concept is awesome though.
Here ya go. 4 minutes of gameplay.
 

PshycoNinja

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You acknowledge that XV has been through the parallel hells of mismanagement and lack of solidified vision that infested XIII, but you have faith that this time it'll be different based on...what, exactly? The personnel?



To this date this DaVinci Code secrecy shrouding the FNC mythos and the shifting of the storytelling from gameplay to an in-game appendix strikes me as a huge, dumb failure. It's eroded my faith tremendously in SE's ability to engage the player to care about the characters and the world around them.
That's not what was said in the slightest.
 

Gaz_RB

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You can't have Final Fantasy without fabulous hair!~*~*~

Here ya go. 4 minutes of gameplay.
I've seen that video like 100 times. I'm not yet willing to trust SE enough to believe that video is representative of how the actual game will play. I'll admit though, that if they can pull it off with that amount of dynamism and spectacle and not make it seem as linear as FF13, I'm sold.
It looks pretty amazing. Just not sure how it will play.
 

KoopaTheCasual

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I've seen that video like 100 times. I'm not yet willing to trust SE enough to believe that video is representative of how the actual game will play. I'll admit though, that if they can pull it off with that amount of dynamism and spectacle and not make it seem as linear as FF13, I'm sold.
Haha, i just don't see why people are in disbelief about it (I say this as someone super excited about this game). It just looks like Kingdom Hearts gameplay, with less float and more particles.
 
Sep 23, 2011
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Good read OP.

It's kinda nuts to think how XII, XIII, XIV, and XV (mostly due to the issues with other games) have all had really tortured development cycles. I wonder if SE will ever be able to make a flagship, mainline FF game again without some disaster.
 

Makoto Yuki

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Even when it was FFversusXIII it was still independent from FFXIII, it was billed as a FF game that's gameplay was against the traditional JRPG conventions, hence "versus." The only thing in common was the FNC mythology.
 

Gaz_RB

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Haha, i just don't see why people are in disbelief about it (I say this as someone super excited about this game). It just looks like Kingdom Hearts gameplay, with less float and more particles.
Sorry, I just can't agree there. There is a lot more unique, situational animations going on in that gameplay video than anything in Kingdom Hearts. I'm just hoping it can stretch into a full length Final Fantasy game. Honestly, I'm expecting it to be pretty short.
 

Skilletor

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I've seen that video like 100 times. I'm not yet willing to trust SE enough to believe that video is representative of how the actual game will play. I'll admit though, that if they can pull it off with that amount of dynamism and spectacle and not make it seem as linear as FF13, I'm sold.
It looks pretty amazing. Just not sure how it will play.
It looks pretty much like Kingdom Hearts to me. I don't see what's so unbelievable about it. Why are people in such doubt?

Sorry, I just can't agree there. There is a lot more unique, situational animations going on in that gameplay video than anything in Kingdom Hearts. I'm just hoping it can stretch into a full length Final Fantasy game. Honestly, I'm expecting it to be pretty short.

Well, yeah, the last Kingdom Hearts game we had on a console was KH2. I'd hope they'd be able to do a lot more between two generations of game development.
 

Solid Samus

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Fantastic read.

It's been some time since I've held any excitement for an upcoming Final Fantasy game. Heavily based on Kingdom Hearts combat, huh? Sign me up!
 
Mar 21, 2005
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Good read OP.

It's kinda nuts to think how XII, XIII, XIV, and XV (mostly due to the issues with other games) have all had really tortured development cycles. I wonder if SE will ever be able to make a flagship, mainline FF game again without some disaster.
Wada.
scapegoat.
 

DrROBschiz

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It looks pretty much like Kingdom Hearts to me. I don't see what's so unbelievable about it. Why are people in such doubt?
It kind of looks like a complete game

I imagine the quick time events will function somewhat like they do in other games. Its not like anything being shown hasn't been done before.

Going to be quite a different FF than we are used to for sure. I just hope its deep.

Looks like you can switch weapons on the fly. I can't help but think his skill progression will be similar to how its handled in DMC
 

badcrumble

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Good read OP.

It's kinda nuts to think how XII, XIII, XIV, and XV (mostly due to the issues with other games) have all had really tortured development cycles. I wonder if SE will ever be able to make a flagship, mainline FF game again without some disaster.
Hard to say. I don't think they've reorganized themselves yet in a way that would work, honestly (but I know that white engine/crystal tools problems had a lot to do with it too - that and a horrible lack of a working vertical FFXIII slice for *ages*).
 

Daft_Cat

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I can't believe we're probably still 2 or more years out from its release. OP is great, and does some to keep me a believer, but fuck.

I bought a PS3 for this. I was only half-way through high school. By the time it comes out I'll have a graduate degree.
 

Famassu

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Same thing I'm worried about. Looks more like COD: FF than FF13 is.
They decided to show some cinematic moments of the game in the cinematic trailer, but the game will still have open-ish world exploration, cities etc.

I've yet to see anything that looks like it could be actual gameplay. Concept is awesome though.
The combat gameplay trailer is 100% gameplay and even the more cinematic trailer is probably (mostly) real, they've just touched it up a bit to look like what they think the completed game will look like (which is nothing too uncommon with E3 trailers, devs do it all the time).

You acknowledge that XV has been through the parallel hells of mismanagement and lack of solidified vision that infested XIII, but you have faith that this time it'll be different based on...what, exactly? The personnel?.
Uh... XV has only been through mismanagement in a sense that the higher management hasn't put focus on it until somewhat recently. And there has been no lack of solidified vision for XV. It is now exactly what Nomura has wanted it to be for years, this is clear if you've been listening to everything he has said during the years. The game looks & plays exactly how Nomura envisioned all those years ago.
 

botty

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why do you care?
It's about time someone made a thread for the confused souls who think Nomura's masterpiece is at all connected to the disaster that was FF13. They spent two games just trying to recoup, recycle, and salvage that messy series, so it's no surprise they detached FFXV completely from it.
 

Gaz_RB

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It looks pretty much like Kingdom Hearts to me. I don't see what's so unbelievable about it. Why are people in such doubt?




Well, yeah, the last Kingdom Hearts game we had on a console was KH2. I'd hope they'd be able to do a lot more between two generations of game development.

I guess it's just sort of a wait and see deal. I'm just gonna need to wait longer before I believe that SE has turned things around enough to be able to deliver something on this level, though, I'm optimistic that they can.

I expect the gameplay will be toned down a bit. Or maybe the combat will just be a bit more scripted and interrupted by cutscenes than past FFs.

The combat gameplay trailer is 100% gameplay and even the more cinematic trailer is probably (mostly) real, they've just touched it up a bit to look like what they think the completed game will look like (which is nothing too uncommon with E3 trailers, devs do it all the time).

.
Devs do indeed do it all the time, but usually when games are this far from release, the game may go through many more changes and downgrades. See Bioshock Infinite, Final Fantasy 13. I hope you guys are right though.
 

Sub_Level

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One aspect I hope they touch on again is the world map.

Early on in around 2006 or 2007 it was revealed in Dengeki or whatever that the world map would return and sometime later there were pics of a gas station out in the desert. That looked really cool. For E3 I expect them to show some of that stuff.
 

Makoto Yuki

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This might sound confusing so bear with me. XIII and XV themselves aren't connected. They are both connected to the FNC mythos but in no way directly related to each other.
That's what Jucksalbe means, we've known that versusXIII's only connection to FFXIII was the FNC mythos, so thread says nothing new really. It's just a nice reminder.
 
Mar 21, 2005
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They decided to show some cinematic moments of the game in the cinematic trailer, but the game will still have open-ish world exploration, cities etc.
I just hope the car/airship/etc. traversal hasn't been dropped.
Been waiting for controllable vehicle travel (Chocobos don't count) to return to FF since the PS1 days. :(
 

badcrumble

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One aspect I hope they touch on again is the world map.

Early on in around 2006 or 2007 it was revealed in Dengeki or whatever that the world map would return and sometime later there were pics of a gas station out in the desert. That looked really cool. For E3 I expect them to show some of that stuff.
I know they've had versions with zoning and versions without. Curious to see what we end up with.