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Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Discussion with director Yoshinori Kitase, character designer Tetsuya Nomura, scenario writer Kazushige Nojima, and art director Yusuke Naora. Very enlightening behind-the-scenes info, especially about the writing process, as Kitase, Nomura, and Nojima all worked on the story.

From the interview:

- The line “Words aren’t the only way to talk someone how you feel,” right? That was quite a mature conversation for a FF game.

Kitase: But I remember having to get another version that was too intense toned down.

Nojima: The original idea was more extreme. The plan was to have Cloud walk out of the Chocobo stable on board the Highwind, followed by Tifa leaving while checking around, but Kitase turned it down. But even with the line in question, maybe at that time none of us thought it would be something so important (laughs).


LOL LOL LOL LOL WHY WASN'T THAT IN THERE? I am going to consider this canon.

- Mr. Kitase, which scene do you find most striking even now?

Kitase: Like Nomura, I’d have to say the climax in the mental realm. The scene where the mysteries regarding Sephiroth and Cloud all become clear. I didn’t know until we were in the latter stages of development that Cloud’s memories were Zack’s. First of all, when I originally checked the scenario, the character of Zack didn’t exist. Zack was a character who came up as Nojima was building up the mysteries. So until that part was complete I was left wondering just how he was planning to solve this, and all the while making the event scenes, still in the dark about the truth.

Nojima: But with Zack, I didn’t simply bring him in just because it was needed for solving the mysteries. When I joined the development team, the concept of Aerith seeing her first love again in Cloud was already there, so I brought him in to link that with solving the mysteries.

Nomura: About the concept of her seeing her first love again in Cloud, at first we were thinking of making that man Sephiroth. When I got the request for the illustration of Zack we were already near the end of development, so when you look at it now it’s not even coloured, and I can’t really deny that it feels like quite a sudden request.


I'm always trying to figure out how this writing process works, and as far as I can tell, Nomura designed the characters and handed them to the art department and to Nojima, who wrote a basic plot, which was checked by Kitase. Then all the writers and event planners divided up the story, which had yet to be finalized, and Nojima continued working on the plot. Pretty haphazard, but at least it was the type of thing where they could revise earlier scenes to work with new plot developments, like so:

- Had you thought about the truth of the mysteries regarding Cloud and Zack from the very beginning?

Nojima: No, I thought of it as I went on with my work. So at the beginning there wasn’t much foreshadowing. The foreshadowing scenes, I asked the staff in charge of the event scenes to add after development reached a point where an outcome for the mysteries came into sight.

Kitase: In those days it was easy to go back and change things around later on. Lately, with the workload involved in making the graphics, it’s hard to ask people to change something once it’s been finished.


It's interesting how as games become more advanced, they also need to be more carefully planned ahead of time. I can see that being beneficial or detrimental to storytelling, depending on how writers approach them.

Kitase: And then Nomura said he wanted to have a four-legged character, and drew Red XIII…

Nomura: After that I think things kind of stalled for a while (laughs).

Nojima: Because you said you wanted to have a four-legged character, it was a real struggle to make the cut-scenes. Like, ‘how is he supposed to climb a ladder?’ and ‘when he turns around his tail and his body end up going into the wall’ (laughs).


REALLY, HOW?

- Yuffie and Vincent are secret characters who you don’t have to get in your party, but I was surprised that they had so many cut-scenes prepared for them.

Nomura: There was even a time when some people thought we should cut them because we didn’t have enough time. But we somehow managed to veto cutting them, and as a result they became the secret characters they are today.

Kitase: The main reason for there being so many cut-scenes for Yuffie is down it the strong attachment that Akiyama, who was in charge of them, had. Her appearing in a battle and talking with her afterwards, all those were his ideas, and as development moved along the scope steadily got bigger and bigger.


Thank you, Akiyama! I really appreciate how many scenes were written for these characters. They never feel like they're not as significant members of your party as Cid or Red.

Kitase: I remember making the event where he joins you in the Shinra Mansion, but his episodes themselves was Nojima, wasn’t it?


THAT IS MY FAVORITE VINCENT. I enjoyed the moments when he was over-the-top and hammy in Advent Children, too. I hope Dirge of Cerberus is a lol-fest because if they take Vincent seriously in that game, I will cry from grief over his hamminess. Possibly also from intentional tragedy, seeing as how this is Final Fantasy, but Kazushige Nojima didn't write DC, so all bets are off. I am hoping Kitase's influence made it sufficiently ridiculous.

Nomura: In regards to Sephiroth, I wanted to avoid having the kind of plot development where you get to the end of the story and suddenly this boss you’ve never heard of yet just appears. With FFVII, I wanted to do a story where you’re chasing someone you’ve known was the enemy from the get-go.


*COUGH* NECRON. *COUGH*

Kitase: When I saw the cut-scenes of the completed CC, the quality was good enough to release on the PS2, and I never expected it would be this good. With CC, I had only read part of the scenario when I worked on it, so when played up to the ending myself, as a consumer, I was moved, like “aah, so this is what Zack’s story was like…” (laughs). When I saw the ending, I though to myself, “all the titles have come together nicely. I’m glad we did the Compilation.


IAWTC.

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