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Why were the Final Fantasy 7 character models so bad?

Nov 28, 2012
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This was the most expensive game of its time, with a budget of around 45 million dollars, 120 artists, on one of the most advanced consoles out, and the best they could do for the character models was this?


Its just always seemed so bizarre to me. Were the standards really THAT different back then? Was the software not developed enough to create something properly textured like the character models in Final Fantasy 8? What was the reason for making something so basic when everything else in the game was so delicately crafted?

Edit: I should clarify that this is just in regards to the exploration models.
 

Berksy

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May 14, 2011
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3D was still new thing then and it wasnt much into the PS1's lifetime. Also didn't this game start its life on N64?
 

vazel

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Aug 9, 2005
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Keep in mind that's the world model you saw from an isometric viewpoint. The combat models were higher quality and looked really good at the time.
 
Jun 17, 2012
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the models in fight engine looked much better.

They simply could not get it to work at that time. They where new to psone tech. The models in the pre rendered backdrops in 8,9 looked much improved.
 

DiscoJer

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Sep 26, 2009
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I thought it must have been a deliberate style choice.

Like why do so many modern games use deliberately ugly/blocky 2d pixel art?
 
May 18, 2011
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Maybe Squaresoft had no clue how 3D worked back then?
Many games looked like this.

Also a $45 million budget? Seriously? Not more like $4.5 million? I can't imagine FF7 to have been this expensive to make.
 

BAW

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Aug 6, 2009
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It was an artistic choice. Of course they could have been different, but the game's creators did not want to. It doesn't matter that development started on N64, this did not play any part in the decision. So we have to respect it, although I don't like it, and this is the reason I won't stop asking for a FF7 remake.
 

tsumineko

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Oct 12, 2011
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It was probably done like that so the individual features would stand out more as the character got smaller on that low resolution (320x240) screen. They characters were very emotive, and it wouldn't have been noticeable on the bigger maps.
 

Raist

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Jan 27, 2007
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Technical limitations of the world and town maps, surely? Post some models from the battle scenes up.
Well ironically that's where they had the most ressources available. Most of the backgrounds were 2D renders backgrounds. World map wasn't exactly demanding either given how barren it looked :p
 
They tried to make them similar to the "chibi" designs that the other Final Fantasy games had. In past games, they had to make the characters somewhat blocky with big faces in order to give some visual clarity.


I suppose they wanted to continue this tradition, but it didn't age well. I kind of like it to be honest, they still look rather unique. In battle though, they have more realistic proportions.

 

duckroll

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Jun 7, 2004
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The exploration models were made to be simple and less detailed because it would be a waste of resources (both artistic and performance-wise on the PS1) to have more detailed models when it's a top down zoomed out view at 320x240 or something, which most people would be playing on a 20" or smaller television at that time. This was 1997. They look fine for what they are.

The battle models were much more detailed, had proper hands and proportions, and lots more texture detail, since they were meant to be zoomed in and viewed from all sides by a dynamic camera.
 
Jun 17, 2012
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the gourade shading could have been an artistic choice.

the lower poly models in mapscreen. fuck no.

they simply could not display higher quality models at that time. Especially since they probably quite a few of them in certain scenes.
 

BigTnaples

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Feb 10, 2011
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Not sure. I play older games all the time, but having a REALLY hard time playing FFVII for the first time on my Vita.

The graphics are just so terribly aged. The definition of early 3D I guess.
 

z0m3le

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Jun 16, 2011
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www.notenoughshaders.com

(ff3 ds)
In my opinion, Final Fantasy's games work best with a light hearted attention to detail. Chrono Trigger isn't one of the best RPGs ever made because it was ultra realistic, it was because IMO the characters and world were remember-able long after you put the controller away.
 

nubbe

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Jun 7, 2004
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Their ability to exploit the hardware evolved quite a bit from FVII to FFIX
Most first generation 3D games look like crap, but they were awesome at the time
 

RC

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Jan 27, 2007
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The exploration models were made to be simple and less detailed because it would be a waste of resources (both artistic and performance-wise on the PS1) to have more detailed models when it's a top down zoomed out view at 320x240 or something, which most people would be playing on a 20" or smaller television at that time. This was 1997. They look fine for what they are.

The battle models were much more detailed, had proper hands and proportions, and lots more texture detail, since they were meant to be zoomed in and viewed from all sides by a dynamic camera.
Most people didn't have TV's 20" or smaller in 1997. Around 30" was the norm. Hell my parents bought a 53" big screen in 95.
 

sykoex

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They tried to make them similar to the "chibi" designs that the other Final Fantasy games had. In past games, they had to make the characters somewhat blocky with big faces in order to give some visual clarity.


I suppose they wanted to continue this tradition, but it didn't age well. I kind of like it to be honest, they still look rather unique. In battle though, they have more realistic proportions.

Yeah, it kind of hit me when I noticed how the FFVI sprites were so squat when the Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana sprites were more normal looking. The chibi thing was just a look they went for with FF, but they ended up abandoning it for FFVIII after not pulling it off well with FFVII.
 

Techies

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Jan 29, 2013
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Check out Silver 1999
and Ecstatica 2

They both have awesome environments (aged well), yet odd looking characters.
 
Jun 17, 2012
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Check out Silver 1999
and Ecstatica 2

They both have awesome environments (aged well), yet odd looking characters.

In ecstaticas case, id say the backdrop aged just as badly.





in ecstatica they did not even use polygons? round balls and oval shapes to make characters.
 

Earthpainting

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May 7, 2006
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I think the simplicity of the overworld models had many reasons behind them. Think of it a bit like how all the Final Fantasy games from 1 to 5 had simpler character sprites for the overworld and taller, more detailed ones during battles.

They probably weren't all that familiar with making 3D games at the time, not with the PS1 architecture. Since the fidelity of the models was going to be low either way, the expressions of the simplified, deformed models are "easier to read" since you can display them in very cartoonish ways. Much like how they have been doing them with the games prior to it. You'll notice that even FF6, with its larger sprites, still has proportionally large heads.

While the quality of these models are very low, I think they were the right choice. The tone of these games changed drastically as soon as they abandoned these deformed proportions.
 

Manmademan

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Nov 3, 2006
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The exploration models were made to be simple and less detailed because it would be a waste of resources (both artistic and performance-wise on the PS1) to have more detailed models when it's a top down zoomed out view at 320x240 or something, which most people would be playing on a 20" or smaller television at that time. This was 1997. They look fine for what they are.

The battle models were much more detailed, had proper hands and proportions, and lots more texture detail, since they were meant to be zoomed in and viewed from all sides by a dynamic camera.
disagree- I recall these models looking horrendous even in 1997, and they weren't always in top down, zoomed out views. Think of the train interior scene. What else was out that year? mega man legends? tomb raider II?
 

Borman

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Jul 26, 2007
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Probably couldn't be arsed to redesign after their N64 tech demo.


There was no N64 Tech Demo, the fact this persists after all this time is crazy.

I believe there are some higher res models left on the disk, a handful, which people speculated was due to a possible move to high-res field models. Didnt happen of course, and high-res is relative in this case.
 

thefro

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May 14, 2006
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One thing to keep in mind is Square didn't get their rep for making graphically impressive games until FF7 came out.

FFIV didn't look that great... FFVI was a good-looking game but nothing mindblowning.
 

Mlatador

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Jun 28, 2011
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The exploration models were made to be simple and less detailed because it would be a waste of resources (both artistic and performance-wise on the PS1) to have more detailed models when it's a top down zoomed out view at 320x240 or something, which most people would be playing on a 20" or smaller television at that time. This was 1997. They look fine for what they are.

The battle models were much more detailed, had proper hands and proportions, and lots more texture detail, since they were meant to be zoomed in and viewed from all sides by a dynamic camera.
This. It would have indeed been a waste of resources. I also think those "exploration models" or overworld models look "charming". I think they are very JRPG-ey. In many JRPGs you had this difference between more detailed "in battle" and less detailed "overworld/exploration" models.

I like it like that, since it makes the battles stand out more/makes them special in a way.

I also think that those blocky characters are kinda cute ^^ + they leave room for immagination.
 

duckroll

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disagree- I recall these models looking horrendous even in 1997, and they weren't always in top down, zoomed out views. Think of the train interior scene. What else was out that year? mega man legends? tomb raider II?
I remember being really, really impressed by the Japanese FFVII demo which came with Tobal No1. A friend's brother imported Tobal, and we went over to his place to check the demo out. I think it's important to remember that FFVII did some really interesting things back then which other games didn't. Even though the actual field models were really low-poly and had no real textures to speak of, the presentation was pretty advanced. The pre-rendered backgrounds looked much better than any realtime 3D game at that time, and they added animated details to the backdrops as well. Some of the camera angles were pretty cinematic in nature, and some of the scenes even used FMV to make the backgrounds part of a moving scene.
 

shuri

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Jun 8, 2004
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I remember an interview published back then that asked the director the same question, and he said it was because of technical limitations (at the time for psx dev). I think also it was because the whole Super Deformed (i think its called chibbi now?) look was popular at the time in 1996-1997 in the anime scene so they probably went "well thats good enough"
 
Jun 17, 2012
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just because they where chibi does not mean they have to reduce the poly budget to a third.

this is a pure technical issue.

they could not produce better looking models for the map screen. Because unlike the battle screen they needed to display more than 3 of them.