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A Day in the Life With a Final Fantasy Creator

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the spoony-bards-welcome dept.

29

1up has a feature up looking at a day in the life of Yoshitaka Amano. This talented artist has been behind much of the visual appeal of the Final Fantasy series over the years. He's also worked on several anime series, such as Speed Racer, some Macross titles, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. In addition to background information, the article has a piece talking directly with the artist himself. From the article: " Final Fantasy wasn't the first video game-related job I did. So I went to America for a week, which was the first time I went to America, and I don't remember what company it was, but this company asked me to do an illustration similar to Dragon's Lair, the arcade game, and that was the first game-related job I had."

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Get up at 6 am, assume zen pose, think about (0, Troll)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 8 years ago | (#15771055)

androgynous figures and how to make them even more so.

Drink green tea, realize that pursuing life as a hentai creator would be more profitable.

Lunch, ponder the reality that the better the game is, the less real work humanity will actually do.

Dinner, think about how it's a shame ritual suicide is not quite as common as it used to be.

Disappeared (1)

SchwarzeReiter (894411) | about 8 years ago | (#15771070)

These sites Slashdot links to become smarter every day. Now they take them offline, before the first post.

With? (1)

Durumbrain (896534) | about 8 years ago | (#15771110)

A day in the life with a final fantasy creator? Is it about his wife?

All of your base are belong to us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15771119)

I'm not an english specialist, but wouldn't it be a day in a life of instead of a day in a life with ??

Re:All of your base are belong to us? (1)

Drooling Iguana (61479) | about 8 years ago | (#15773043)

You spoony AC!

The genius isnt with him (1)

gentimjs (930934) | about 8 years ago | (#15771141)

Its with the guys who translate his whispy watercolour looking art into more draw-a-2nd-time-able chars....

The Good Final Fantasy Games, Not Current (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15771166)

It needs to be noted that Yoshitaka Amano is responsible for the good Final Fantasy games (that is, the original through VI), and not the abominations the series has turned into. People's favorite Final Fantasy characters were mostly his creation. (I can't say "most famous" because Sephiroth and Cloud probably take that trophy, and no real fan liked them. But he wasn't responsible for them.)

He has continued to work with Square-Enix on the more recent Final Fantasy games, but he was not the lead artist. The bland and uninteresting character designed in VII-XII are not his fault, he did draw some of the sketches used for them, but they were largely developed by comittee.

Since he did the artwork for the 8-bit and 16-bit series, his sketches had to be turned into sprites, so a lot of the quality of his work was unfortunately lost. But he managed to bring an amazing amount of life and quality to simple 2-bit palette sprites on the Nintendo. (Yes, 2-bit: 4 colors total, one which was usually "transparent".) The jump to the SNES allowed us to see more of his art in the amazing backgrounds in the battle scenes and the enemy graphics.

Much of what gave the old Final Fantasy games their character was based on Amano's artwork. The fact that the series has totally lost its way since he's moved on is a testament to just how important his art was to the full experience.

We can hopefully look forward to more of his work from the new company he works for, Mistwalker, which is home to most of the people from the Final Fantasy games we all know and loved (as opposed to VII and later, which just kind of ruined the series). Mistwalker will be releasing games for the XBox360, which is just another reason not to bother with the over-priced PS3 and instead just grab a XBox360 and a Wii for less than the cost of a single PS3.

Re:The Good Final Fantasy Games, Not Current (3, Insightful)

SchwarzeReiter (894411) | about 8 years ago | (#15771247)

This is a very good example, why it is a shame that anonymous posts are not showed by default. You just produced the only usable comment in this bunch, and nobody will read it. Nice. Good work, though.

Re:The Good Final Fantasy Games, Not Current (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 8 years ago | (#15771395)

Which is why the only games I am looking forward to that will be released this year are all final fantasy ports(well, the one is a remake). Hopefully they will not be as buggy as FF IV advance(on a tangent note, it's interesting to note that it seems much of the programming work was outsourced to China. If you read the credits there are almost as many Chinese names as Japanese...)

Re:The Good Final Fantasy Games, Not Current (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 8 years ago | (#15771398)

You have pretty much hit the nail on the head.

I would have to say that of my complaints regarding the FF series, the complete lack of art direction seems to rank in the top 5. In my mind, I can only chalk it up to an attempt to please the changing market and retain its hold as the staple RPG.

Rounding out my top complaints.

5. Story: There is little to no story to bring the characters together, it is the off chance that some story element brings them together. Most often, this section is cut out and they either start together, or just head in the same direction.
4. Obtuse mechanics: The little side games have got to go. Rather than insert them as interesting content to discover as you play, they are often overdesigned and lacking in context. Compounding their odd mechanics is an utter lack of instruction in the mini-game's operation. By the time you puzzle out the controls enough to bypass this story roadblock, you never want to have to do it again.
3. Anemic art: Either it is androgynous, or the attempts at 'personalizing' the characters result in goofy clothing design, unexplained tattoos, or other absurdities (yes mr 8 foot sword, I'm looking at you)
2. Now face my true form: You haven't reached the end of the game until the planet is about to be destroyed by a godlike being. Or worse.
1. Whiney, brooding, dark, assholes don't make for good lead characters. Heck, if there was even character progression beyond the lame 'sexual tensions' that seem to be all the rage.
0. Whack-a-monster: In addition to the mini-game, people don't often play RPGs to get their FPS fix. Just let us click through the menues w/o resorting to street-fighter combos.

Re:The Good Final Fantasy Games, Not Current (1)

Ignignot (782335) | about 8 years ago | (#15771429)

reason -1: Idiotic, unrealistic depictions of women. I absolutely refuse to play any more final fantasy after that bullshit in 8 where you are planning an assassination and the women aren't in position to MURDER someone because they forgot to say thank you to someone else and had to go back and do that.

Re:The Good Final Fantasy Games, Not Current (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 8 years ago | (#15771526)

First-Degree murder is no excuse for improper etiquette. It's somewhere in Emily Post, I'll go find it.

Re:The Good Final Fantasy Games, Not Current (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#15771939)

You make it sound like Mr. I-let-the-guy-I-fought-ten-times-already-just-run- past-without-ramming-my-sword-into-his-throat-so-I -can-fight-him-AGAIN aka Squall was any less idiotic.

Re:The Good Final Fantasy Games, Not Current (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 8 years ago | (#15774994)

Those aren't the same FF games that this guy was responsible for.

He was FF through FF VI. If you can stand sprite-based graphics, you really should consider checking them out. They're pretty good about the gripes you listed (just avoid Sabin in FF VI, as he violates gripe #0)

Re:The Good Final Fantasy Games, Not Current (1)

RSquaredW (969317) | about 8 years ago | (#15776479)

Yeah, but compare Sabin's Blitz with the combos from FF7 and 8. The button presses for Blitz were all straight out of Street Fighter 2 (QCF, HCB, 3QCF, LeftRightLeft, Spinning Piledriver) and everyone with an SNES knew SF2 by then. By comparison, getting Tifa to do Final Heaven or Zack to do much of anything (especially Zack) is a pain in the ass. It's like Square wanted to emulate Super Mario RPG's action aspects but bigger and more complicated, ultimately, less fun.

Amano had work in all of the FFs - he is solely responsible for the graphic that shows up behind the title (Terra on the Magitek suit (6), Meteor (7), Rinoa and Squall (8), etc etc). Unfortunately, his replacement (Nomura?) is obsessed with the J-Pop singer Gackt and has decided that all of his games will feature a carbon copy of Gackt as the main character. He redesigned Setzer for Kingdom Hearts 2, and the redesign just looks boring - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Setzer_Gabbiani [wikipedia.org]

Re:The Good Final Fantasy Games, Not Current (4, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | about 8 years ago | (#15771553)

You know, there's this little matter called "taste" that comes into play. I've been an RPG nut since FF1 and DQ1, and FF7/FFT are my favorites with FF6 being one of my least favorites. It sure is nice of you to judge me as not a REAL fan by my personal preferences, though!

Re:The Good Final Fantasy Games, Not Current (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15772104)

thanks. now please go pour your hard earned money down the mouth of the beast known as squenix so you can have the privilige if playing another shit game. real fan my ass.

Re:The Good Final Fantasy Games, Not Current (2, Insightful)

maeltor (679257) | about 8 years ago | (#15772346)

I'm totally with you. I DO really like the old games too, i've played through all the ones except the real FFIII which i'll be getting on the DS Lite as soon as it comes out. At the same time, the news ones aren't horrible. I hate the argument that if its new and uses a different visual style than the first 8, that it "JUST SUCKS and if you like it you NOT UB3RL337." Its such a ridiculous bullshit argument. People are entitled to their own tastes. Yes, after VII, FF broke into the "mainstream" with its huge budgets and tons of unnecessary cutscenes, but some of those really worked to the games advantage (Aeris's death anyone, Sephiroth walking through the fire) and they became classis lore in RPG gaming. Whats wrong with that?

Re:The Good Final Fantasy Games, Not Current (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15772985)

Would you call someone whose favorite Star Trek episodes were created after Gene Roddenberry died to be a real fan? I'd hope not.

Likewise, anyone whose favorite Final Fantasy game is a game created after the people who made Final Fantasy what it was were effectively marginalized isn't a real Final Fantasy fan. People can enjoy Star Trek Voyager all they want, but it doesn't make them real Star Trek fans.

The hardest part of the job is... (2, Insightful)

creimer (824291) | about 8 years ago | (#15771180)

That Final Fantasy is never ever final. Not a problem in terms of job security. But how does one stay creatively fresh if the project never ends?

Re:The hardest part of the job is... (1)

Xymor (943922) | about 8 years ago | (#15771338)

There's always a good story to tell somewhere. If FF were a sequel series, with the same characters in the same world, time and time again, people would just get bored by the 5 iteration. The pool with ideias for stories and characters will never dry.

Re:The hardest part of the job is... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#15771968)

Of course it would be even better if the stories didn't seem to be randomly pieced together from a series of clichees and didn't always end up with the world being demolished by some super powerful evil dude whom you have to defeat. But I guess having situations that come from diplomacy or strategy in a game isn't palatable to the Japanese mainstream gamer so they have to use supernatural enemies instead.

Re:The hardest part of the job is... (1)

kabocox (199019) | about 8 years ago | (#15772319)

That Final Fantasy is never ever final. Not a problem in terms of job security. But how does one stay creatively fresh if the project never ends?

You know I don't really mind that they keep on putting out titles under the name. As far as I can tell, the only final fantasy games that had anything directly to do with each other were FFX and FFX2. I've played FF1,2,3, FFX,FFX2, FF7, FF8, & FF9. You know what? I've been becoming more and more unhappy with the series. The main male leads seem to all be either stupid, jerks, or some-what clue less. I've recently been replaying FFX. Honestly, I hate the story, I hate Yuna, Tidus, everything with Yevon, and blitz-ball. I like the sphere grid leveling, monster arena, and many side quests. I think the FFX2 was a bit backwards with its form of leveling.

What I really miss is FF1 and the ability to chose your entire party and class of everyone. To me the addition of the plot and fixed character type of FF2 & FF3 was what ruined the replay value of the series. I liked replaying FF1 with off the wall character classes. Each choice had a big difference in how you played the game. It wasn't until you could really customize armor and weapons that you regained some of the ability of forcing your characters to be/do what you wanted. I've always liked the stock FF characters and haven't minded a script. I would like to get rid of the whole save the entire world motify though. Why can't I just have a game with a gang of 4-9 characters of classes of my choosing that I don't have to mess with saving the world, but get to be an evil overlord or something where I just kill/capture random stuff/people and do random things? I'd love to play a FF parody that your party was the evil bad guys trying to either rule the world or stop several parties of good guys with your monster legions. Here's an idea: A game where there aren't really any good guys. They are all evil bad guys that want to rule the world and you just try to survive a bit without bringing down the government on you. I'd actually have liked if the FF was set all on one world instead of the whole let's just recycle some elements one game to the next. FF is just the one RPG series that everyone has been exposed to. I predict on the next FF series. You have an evil empire or a good empire that becomes evil and your small force has to either stop its leaders or awaken a magically locked force to do battle with the evil empire. I bet their will be an airship pilot named Cid somewhere and some moggles and chocobos. Ok. I like the chocobos except for the one that you had to breed chocobos for the chocobo races. The chocobo races just annoying like blitz ball. I didn't like that card game that they put in one, but some did so I won't hold that one against them. Why couldn't they do something like the gummi ship from KH2? That was fun. The one from KH1 was o.k., but not nearly as raw fun.

Dear Diary... (3, Funny)

Hamster Lover (558288) | about 8 years ago | (#15771292)

My boss is pissed. The cut scenes we've been working on for the last few months are almost done and he's screaming: it's not enough! I need more cut scenes! More cut scenes! I was hoping to get around to the gameplay controls, or adding save points, but I guess we'll be working on more cut scenes. I don't blame him though, Final Fantasy is about the experience and gamers are demanding a deeper, more satisfying game experience and that means more unskippable cut scenes, and by golly, that's what they're going to get. Cut scenes, full speed ahead!

Re:Dear Diary... (1)

ahsile (187881) | about 8 years ago | (#15772121)

classic, and oh so true.

Amano didn't work on Speed Racer, Macross, or Eva (3, Informative)

eganloo (195345) | about 8 years ago | (#15773123)

He's also worked on several anime series, such as Speed Racer, some Macross titles, and Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Interestingly, Yoshitaka Amano worked on none of these. As the first paragraph of 1up.com's article correctly says, his former studio (Tatsunoko Production) worked on those titles, not Amano. Speed Racer (Mach Go Go) was before his time at that studio, and Evangelion was after his time there. Macross did launch a mini-spate of "realistic" transforming robot series, and one of these series inspired by Macross was Genesis Climber Mospeada. Amano did design the Mospeada characters, but not the Macross ones.

Re:Amano didn't work on Speed Racer, Macross, or E (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15773387)

here are his anime related credits:

Amon Saga (OAV) : Original creator, Original Character Design
Angel's Egg (movie) : Story, Original Concept, Character Design, Art director
Ayakashi ~ Japanese Classic Horror (TV) : Original Character Design (Yotsuya Kaidan)
Genesis Climber Mospeada (TV) : Original Character Design
Genesis Climber Mospeada: Love, Live, Alive (OAV) : Original Character Design
Hurricane Polymar (TV) : Character Design
Jump Out! Machine Hiryu (TV) : Character Design
Kagaku Ninja-Tai Gatchaman F (TV) : Character Design
Kagaku Ninja-Tai Gatchaman II (TV) : Character Design
Kashi no Ki Mokku (TV) : Animation director
Kerokko Demetan (TV) : Character Design
Lily C.A.T. (movie) : Character Design
Machikado no Meruhen (OAV) : Character Design
Onmyoji (live-action movie) : Design Work
Shinzo Ningen Casshan (TV) : Character Design
Time Bokan (OAV) : Character Design
Twilight of the Cockroaches (movie) : Art director, Cockroach Designer
Uchuu no Kishi Tekkaman (TV) : Character Design
Vampire Hunter D (novel manga) : Art
Vampire Hunter D (OAV) : Character Design
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (movie) : Original Character Design
Yattodetaman (TV) : Character Design
Zendaman (TV) : Character Design

Amano = coolness (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | about 8 years ago | (#15796978)

The man is awesome and was one of the first VG-related person I really came to admire to a great extent. His work on the early FF's was great and I loved those characters so much more than the newer "girly" characters. to me and my group of gamer friends he was a member of the "Holy Trinity of Square:" Hironobuo Sakaguchi, Nobuo Uematsu, and Yoshitaka Amano.
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