November 8, 2006 - Motomu Toriyama and Tetsuya Nomura are currently working away in Square Enix's Shinjuku office on two of the biggest PS3 titles for the next couple of years: Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII. While there hasn't been much in the way of new information since both games debuted at this year's E3, Dengeki PS3, a one-time publication released to coincide with the Japanese PS3 launch, managed to score some commentary from the two.
Toriyama, director of FFXIII, commented a bit on the differences between the PS2 and PS3 versions of the game. FFXIII was originally in development for the PS2, but underwent a platform change following May 2005.
There is apparently very little shared between the two versions. The graphical elements that were prepared for the PS2 couldn't be used, explained Toriyama. "The areas that we kept are the Fabula Nova world, the pieces of the mythology related to FFXIII, and the character details. On the other hand, the battle and gameplay systems were restarted from scratch when production moved to the PS3."
The development staff also underwent some changes. "During development for the PS2, the staff was centered on the Final Fantasy X-2 team. However, in an effort to work with the new PS3 hardware, many new staff members are now taking part."
Nomura, director and character designer for Versus, discussed the difficulties of working with the new hardware. "The hurdles are greater than they were in the move from the PS1 to the PS2," said Nomura. To deal with the transition, Square Enix has all its programmers gather together to work under FFXIII producer Yoshinori Kitase on the White Engine that will power Square Enix's next generation titles. "We're probably at the point where we could make a PS3 title. However, we're currently researching how to fully tap the specs."
It seems as though we'll have to wait a bit to see anything real time from Versus. "Things like real time footage and specifics on areas like the battle system will come once the White Engine is complete," explained Nomura. "We're currently working hard on the development of [the White Engine], and once it's done, we'll have to research what can be done with it. Of course, we do have an idea of what we'd like to do."
The White Engine, it should be noted, isn't just something being made for Final Fantasy XIII. Square Enix will go through many versions of the White Engine over time, according to Nomura, with different games being developed using different versions of the tools. "It's sort of like FFXIII is there as a target. FF Versus XIII will also use the White Engine, and it will be tuned for FF Versus XIII."
The magazine asked the two creators about their opinions on the Tokyo Game Show. "There were more games running on real hardware that I'd expected," said Toriyama. "We're working hard to get FFXIII playable early as well."
Nomura commented on the titles that caught his eye at the show. "Of course, Metal Gear Solid 4. But personally, I'm excited about Devil May Cry 4. I was surprised that they've already shown something in a working state. Also, maybe Gyakuten Saiban 4?"
And the big question, will these Square Enix power players be buying the PS3? "I'm waiting to purchase a plasma television with a PS3," said Toriyama. "Once you've seen video through HDMI, there's no going back."
We'll let you know if we spot Toriyama or Nomura in line on launch day.