Is Making Final Fantasy A Nightmare?

The last big Final Fantasy title to hit store shelves, Final Fantasy XIII, was years in the making. The end result was a disappointment, with many of those who worked on the game leaving studio Square Enix (or even worse, apparently).

Since Final Fantasy XIII was released, the game's director Motomu Toriyama and producer Yoshinori Kitase are still are Square Enix, as well as the game's art director and background graphics director. However, a chunk of the team apparently left after the game's release: battle planning director Toshihiro Tsuchida (who directed 1995's Front Mission for Square), background technical director Takashi Ohkuma (who quit Square Enix and moved to an island in Okinawa to blog about sunsets), composer Masashi Hamauzu (who had been with the studio since 1996), character art designer Nao Ikeda (who started designing characters for The Legend of Mana), among others.

Sure, turnover is high after game companies finish big titles. But what all these game developers have in common is that they were long-time Square Enix employees. Some of them went off, like Hamauzu and Ikeda, to found their own freelance operations. All of them leaving after Final Fantasy XIII was released.

Yoshinori Kanada, who was FFXIII's storyboard director, wasn't so lucky. The 57-year-old died of a heart attack in July 2009. Besides his work at Square Enix, Kanada also worked with Hayao Miyazaki on a slew films, including My Neighbor Totoro and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. It should be pointed out that Japanese anime is a tough business, and many don't make it to sixty. The Japanese game industry isn't a cake walk either.

Unconfirmed reports also surfaced depicting Square Enix as a dark place to work. Former Square Enix game developer Yasuyuki Honne tweeted that two Square Enix employees attempted suicide. One was apparently successful, while the other supposedly was not and is now in a vegetative state. "Another seems to have died from cancer...," Honne added via Twitter.

Honne's tweet has since been deleted, and he does not clarify when the deaths occurred, though it does seem recent as the last Square title he worked on was 1999's Chrono Cross. Also, with a company as large as Square Enix, there are bound to be troubled individuals — of course, as well as those unfortunate enough to be stricken with cancer.

While Final Fantasy Fantasy XIII might not have lived up to the hype, the game was more successful than Final Fantasy XIV, which continues to bleed players and flounder about, and successful enough for a sequel, Final Fantasy XIII-2. That game will be out later this year.


    Motomu Toriyama and producer Yoshinori Kitase are still "are" Square Enix.
    It doesn't surprise me at all, these huge companies spent millions of dollars and work their staff to the bone. While after 5 years in development all you end up with is the same game as the last. You have to think where all that effort goes? However when you look at the art content in the game its obvious. The Artists are driven insane to produce a huge amount of content, at an uncanny quality, most of which will only be seen for a split second.
    To top it all off the Japanese culture and work ethics can be laughable, I know there are places where time, money, and peoples sanity are wasted just to appear respectable.
    With the ever increasing amount of content needed for hi-end games, I can only see this issue getting worse.

    Shame, but am I the only one that didn't mind FFXIII despite it's shortcomings?

      Nope, you aren't the only one.

      I plugged a good 60-70 hours into it, and really enjoyed myself. I did need to take like 3 weeks break half way through though, just to give it time to feel fresh again. Got frustrated by some boss fights, but then felt great when finally over coming them. Even cared enough about the characters to cry at the ending - yeah I said it.

    "The game gets better 1-3 hours in!" is like giving kids bad tasting medicine, the end result might be good but you have a crying kid who hates you. Pushing through the first few HOURS to get to anything more than a "press A button and close your eyes" is too big a short coming.

      more like 14 hours in <.<

    @Dark_templar, I enjoyed ffxiii too, even tho i thought ffxii was better

    Im currently replaying FFX at the moment and it makes FFXIII look pathetic and weak. I feel sorry for all those Square employees getting worked to hard. Im surprised they havent been sued yet. Or have they?

      XIII and X are by far my favourites.

      And bloody hell, if Japanese anime means you probably won't live passed 60, give it up. NOT WORTH IT!

    It's easy to make a new final fantasy. You just take the old one, splash on some new paint and launch!

    Oh wait, thats when I stopped buying them...

      Though this is very true, it is ironically just as hard to do. I mean they would have to rebuild all of the character designs, environment designs, all of the animations, art work, animation. Everything you see gets completely re-done and it must be a tremendous amount of work, as people said they are worked to the bone.

      The ironic point is that they then seem to reuse the same character personalities, the same storylines, the same general settings. They recreate entire worlds, but then recreate the same games in them. I think this is where it falls over, or they make poor choices such as extreme linearity, which I can only imagine was forced on them due to time contstraints. If it was in the design from the start then they were shooting themselves in the foot to start.

      I find it kind of sad they put all this effort into one area, the area which is probably much more time consuming, then completely neglect another.

        I mean they would have to rebuild all of the character designs, environment designs, all of the animations, art work.*

    Considering that the Japanese even invented a word for "death by over-working", not really a surprise that a large development company would be a crummy place to work...

    I certainly feel sorry for them. It's obvious that SE would like to move beyond Final Fantasy, publishing a lot of big budget Western games proves this, it's just.. what can they do? The local FF demographic knows what they want and even attempting to deviate from this will result in a <40 Famitsu score.

    Blame the target audience.

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