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A Glimpse Into The Long Development of Final Fantasy XII

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the cactaur-killing-good-time dept.

Games 65

In a talk Thursday at the Game Developer's Conference, attendees were exposed to a rare treat: technical information behind development at Square/Enix. Programming supervisor Taku Murata, co-director Hiroshi Minagawa, and lead realtime rendering programmer Yoshinori Tsuchida were onhand to shed some light on a game many years in the making. Though the session didn't provide any dirt on those interested in the departure of game designer Yasumi Matsuno, there was plenty to take away from the highly focused discussion. "Final Fantasy games require a lengthy development process, and this presents the very real threat of being obsolete by the time it ships. To combat this the team allocated its resources with a heavy emphasis on art."

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65 comments

Hmmm... (1)

Herr_Skymarshall (1029532) | more than 7 years ago | (#18287358)

A not worthwhile article? Very little information.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290274)

First Post? Not enough Information? Either you're Johnny 5 or you read it too fast. And if you're Johnny 5 then my mother's a snow blower.

Article Summary (3, Informative)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 7 years ago | (#18287454)

Final Fantasy takes years to produce, to lessen the chance that the games outdated when it comes out they spend 70% on art, 20% on game design and 10% on engineering. There was mention that they built tools to output their 'art' through a PS2 onto a TV to get a true representation of how it will look. Lots of comments about how much FFXII sucked, suggesting this business plan is a bad idea.

There i saved you the hassle of reading the article

Re:Article Summary (2, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288222)

Their 70% art business plan shows. And by art, I mean graphics, not plot, storyline, etc. This has got to be the most boring FF yet. After about 20 hours of the game, I finally gave up. It had only once even slightly interested me in the plot, and not at all in the characters. (Except Fran, but not because of who she was as a character, but because she's a bunny-girl that doesn't wear much and has an amazing accent.)

The combat was okay at the beginning. Then you get a few gambits, and it's more fun. Then you get a lot of gambits and you realize the game really does just play itself. (If you're not a complete moron, I mean.) Except for boss fights, there's very little interaction necessary... Or even helpful. And boss fights only need interaction so you can pull off the mega-moves. -yawn-

Combine the lack of interest in combat with the lack of interest in the plot (of which there is NONE in the battlefield) and most of the game is totally boring.

Looked nice, though, for a PS2 game.

Re:Article Summary (1)

Paradox (13555) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288952)

Wait, wait.

FFXII's plot is hailed as one of the most interested, convoluted, and modern of any FF. People love it. Lots of people have said, "I wish it was released in book form, I'd read it." It was not just a recycled love story. And yet you claim this was one of the game's weaknesses?

I submit to you, sir, that you are simply not the target audience for FF games in general. Your statements and tone suggest that you have not liked the genre in general.

Re:Article Summary (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290258)

I agree with the GP.

I got to within 5 or so hours of the end, then quit. Why? Because, I checked to see how close I was to the end, found out, and realized that the story that I'd been waiting for for the last X hours (I don't remember exactly how long it had taken) was NEVER going to show up.

They made some GREAT characters. They DID have a story, to be fair, but it was one that should have taken 5-10 hours to play through, not the tens of hours that it actually takes. They had a Max Payne 2-length story (great game, incidentally, much better than the first) in a Final Fantasy-length game.

Several hours of gameplay, ungodly amounts of time spent leveling, and two or three nearly-identical boss fights (make combos with the super attacks while running around a bunch and having two people set to auto-heal eveyone so that one person can do physical attacks, since nothing else matters, least of all magic which is completely goddamn worthless for some reason, and the summons are hugely disappointing) and what do you get? One or two snarky comments between the characters, and then back to gameplay.

This would be OK if the gameplay itself were actually fun, but it's really, really not. Mind you, I HATED the gameplay in previous FFs. For fun RPG gameplay, I look to KOTOR and the Fallout series, not FF. FF gameplay has always sucked. Hell, even most JRPGs have better gameplay than FF. I play FF for the story. The letdown on FFXII was that they were supposed to have fixed the battle system, and joined the modern RPG world (AT LAST!). The reality? Sure, you no longer have to mash X endlessly, but you still have to do huge amounts of mindless fighting. It's just that you can read a book while you do it now. How is this fun? How is it not work? If anything, there was more bullshit fighting in this game than in, sax, VII or X. They fixed the battle system itself, but the game is still fundamentally broken. I DO NOT want to spend hours on end holding the joystick forward while my characters run through an area, smashing everything in sight. BORING. Yeah, it'd be worse with the interruptions of the older random encounter systems, but it's still MILES away from being good.

Pacing, I guess is what I'm saying. It lacks pacing. Not story pacing (though, in this particular FF, I would argue that as well) but pacing in the gameplay. It totally fails to hold my interest, and, as I've seen largely similar games that CAN do that (Chrono Trigger/Chrono Cross, Suikoden III to some extent) I place the blame squarely (heh) on the designers and devs.

I'd love to see a comparison between some of the earlier FFs and XII of the total lines of dialogue, total lines that advance some kind of main story, and total time spent on story elements. I'm betting that XII's would be low in every case.

It bugs me because I got really attached to the characters, and they failed to do anything interesting with them, or at least nothing that was worth the amount of time required to see it. Sad, really.

I'd have been infinitely happier with the game if they'd just mashed it all into ~20 hours, allowing for a reasonable amount of play between advances. Alternatively, they could have come up with a story and variety of gameplay (novelty, that's what I want!) that really filled (at least to the same degree that earlier FFs have) the 50-60ish hours they had, but that's apparently asking too much. :(

Re:Article Summary (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18293268)

Five hours from the end? So, you probably got far enough to get to this little political jab:

Mindflayer Hunt [daughtersoftiresias.org] .

I'm guessing by your preferred gameplay style that you'd hate most MMORPGs -- running around and killing stuff for hours on end amidst pretty scenery. ;) Different type of gamer, different type of game.

Agree -- XII could certainly have done with more story. Still, what they had was pretty good. I wouldn't rate it as highly as Tactics (which was notably longer to boot), but certainly a lot better than IX. God, that story grated on me. And the horrible writing that went along with it. We get it, Square: Good guys are "witty". Bad guys enjoy being spiteful and are easily enraged. No need to keep pressing that home.

Also, I'll second what the poster below said about the indoor scenes.

Me, to my partner while she was playing: "You know what's missing here?"
Partner: *shakes head*
Me: "Everything but walls, ceilings, and floors."

I mean, for God's sake, the least they could have done was to make the rooms and hallways cramped. That way it at least wouldn't be emphasizing how bare you've made them. Gigantic buildings with nothing inside them became cliche long, long ago, and they don't have the excuse of "we don't have enough system resources for decoration" any more. Even if they tried that excuse, beautiful places like the Salikawood and the Paramina Rift would show it false.

I would, however, disagree with the poster that monsters always seem to be standing around waiting for a hero. I cheered the first time I saw a Saurian hunt down and eat a wolf, saw neutral foes walking around, saw hunters hunting them, etc. Yes, ID did this sort of thing as far back as Doom, but it's always a nice feature.

Re:Article Summary (1)

McFadden (809368) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340989)

Apologies - I've tried not to include any serious spoilers in this one, but you might want to be wary if you haven't finished the game.

I'm in two minds on this one. I finished the game and never really found myself doubting that I would. However, I do kinda understand what you're saying about the storyline never really materializing.

Although I enjoyed the game immensely, I never felt myself getting caught up in the story like I did with FFX. There was something about Yuna's tragic but inevitable slide towards her seemingly unstoppable fate that really gripped me. I genuinely didn't feel like I was sure what was going to happen until fairly near the end - especially with regard to her relationship with Tidus. However, with FFXII there were very few surprises and the outcome seemed all too easy to predict. It was more of a "do this, this and this to save the day" experience. Even some of the intended twists (Balthier's father) seemed a little bolted on just to add spice to the story.

But, as with all things, different things appeal to different minds. Sad though it may be, I actually get a real kick out of power-levelling for hour after hour. I liked the new battle system, and the programmer in me quite liked the gambit system, although I actually seem to be one of the few people these days who also loves turn-based battling. I've read opinion pieces in almost every game magazine I've ever seen arguing that technology has moved on, and turn-based systems are no longer acceptable, but some people actually like it that way.

Unlike the parent, I actually didn't get that attached to the characters this time around. There was no one who had the kind of personality that made me want to care about them. Ashe was a little too full of herself and didn't soften enough for me. Penelo had no depth at all other than being a sidekick for Vaan, who himself wavered between mildly likeable and slightly annoying. Balthier was amusing at times and had probably the best end-story of them all, and Fran while interesting for her voice, wasn't a patch on the fabulous Lulu from FFX. Basch - well I mean what can you say - he was as wooden as a fence-post.

The one thing I would say, is that the end FMV sequence with the Angela Aki song is for me, far and away the nicest and most cinematic ending of any of the FFs so far. I'd seriously recommend to the parent poster that if you're only 5 hours from the end of the game, it's worth spending an afternoon to complete it, as the finest moments are definitely in the last 5 minutes. Although you could always just download the movie from somewhere if you haven't already.

Re:Article Summary (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 7 years ago | (#18346627)

Unlike the parent, I actually didn't get that attached to the characters this time around. There was no one who had the kind of personality that made me want to care about them. Ashe was a little too full of herself and didn't soften enough for me. Penelo had no depth at all other than being a sidekick for Vaan, who himself wavered between mildly likeable and slightly annoying. Balthier was amusing at times and had probably the best end-story of them all, and Fran while interesting for her voice, wasn't a patch on the fabulous Lulu from FFX. Basch - well I mean what can you say - he was as wooden as a fence-post.


I was attached, I guess, in the sense that I saw great potential in them, and desperately wanted them to be more than what they were. How can a person get such a great start on several highly-memorable and potentially dynamic characters, then just not do anything with them? Ugh. It's like the new SW trilogy: even putting aside how bad they are in general, there are specific scenes or sequences of scenes where Lucas managed, by some accident, to set up something that could be truly dramatic and wonderful, and had set it up so well that said scene or sequence practically writes itself--and then he fails to follow through. Frustrating as hell, and he did it ALL THE TIME in those movies. That's how I felt about the characters in FFXII; Balthier, Ashe, Basch, all could have been GREAT, and maybe even Vaan and Penelo could have been salvaged, but it never happened.

The one thing I would say, is that the end FMV sequence with the Angela Aki song is for me, far and away the nicest and most cinematic ending of any of the FFs so far. I'd seriously recommend to the parent poster that if you're only 5 hours from the end of the game, it's worth spending an afternoon to complete it, as the finest moments are definitely in the last 5 minutes. Although you could always just download the movie from somewhere if you haven't already.


Don't worry, I Youtubed it :)

Re:Article Summary (2, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290728)

And see, you'd be wrong about that. Final Fantasy Adventure (I believe) for the GB was my first FF. I played the SNES one when it came out. I loved all of them that I played up to that point. FF7 was disappointing for me as the intro was very boring, but it got better later. Enough better than I now count the game as a good one. FF8, 9, 10 were all great games. FF11 is amazingly lame. FF12 is boring.

The plot in FF12 would have to change pace dramatically, and actually have some content, to save it past the 20 hr mark. After 20 HOURS I care not a whit about any character. Any movie that lasted more than a hour and had me feeling like that would have had me walking out.

And before anyone says 'if you made it 20 hours, it must not have been that bad' ... It's Final Fantasy. I kept telling myself it HAD to get better. I had friends telling me they like it. I had GameFAQs fanboys exclaiming how wonderful it is. And I had Fran's amazingly sexy voice. I basically lived for Fran cutscenes, just to hear that awesome accent. "The Mysthst comesths." Seriously. Awesome accent. Apparently it's the actress' native accent, too. Somehow that makes it even better.

Re:Article Summary (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291734)

And before anyone says 'if you made it 20 hours, it must not have been that bad' ... It's Final Fantasy. I kept telling myself it HAD to get better.

Haha, did the same thing, but I got a lot farther than 20 hours :(

Luckily, YouTube saved me from having to play the last 5 or so. Ugh, what a bad game.

Re:Article Summary (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291980)

Final Fantasy Adventure (I believe) for the GB was my first FF. I played the SNES one when it came out. Those are from the Mana series (Sword of Mana and Secret of Mana, respectively). They are quite different from other RPGs.

Re:Article Summary (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18292294)

http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Seiken_Densetsu [wikia.com]

No, it was a spinoff from Final Fantasy. It later spawned the Mana series.

Doesn't matter, cuz it's the wrong one. It was Final Fantasy Legend that I was thinking of. I haven't played it in over a decade, and couldn't remember which it was. And yes, FFL was actually the SaGa series renamed. But it's enough like FF1-3 that it doesn't matter.

Re:Article Summary (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18292988)

I thought it was like Mario stealing the Dopey Dopey game and trying to pass it off as Super Mario 2, hoping none of us round eyes would notice.

Re:Article Summary (1)

Psiven (302490) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318033)

I realize you're making a joke but that term is pretty offensive.

Re:Article Summary (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18318185)

Didn't you get the memo? When you belong to a group, it's okay to make fun of it. It's a free pass.

Re:Article Summary (1)

Chainsaw Karate (869210) | more than 7 years ago | (#18292706)

What? It seems to me that the vast majority of gamers who hated FF XII are long-time fans of the series, not people who dislike JRPGs in general and are "not the target audience".

FF XII had one of the slowest, most bare bones stories in any FF game. It was basically Final Fantasy Tactics Lite. There are maybe 2 big plot twists in XII. In FFT, twists of the same impact and magnitude happened ALL THE TIME. Vaan and Penelo are also the worst main characters in FF history, even worse than Tidus. They have no convincing motivation for going on the quest in the first place. More importantly, why would four seasoned warriors pick up two teenage kids off the streets and take them along? It was like they finished designing the game and then thought "wait a sec, we forgot to put a fruity, effeminate teenage kid and his childhood friend in this game" and thus Vaan and Penelo were thrown in at the last minute. Actually, rumor has it that Balthier was originally intended to be the main character, but higher-ups at Square-Enix insisted they put in a character that the gamers would "relate to" better.

It also didn't help that you spend most of your time running through a bunch of sewers, mines, caves, and tombs, all of which were basically corridor dungeons with huge rectangular hallways that have the same texture pasted on all of them, with monsters pacing back and forth randomly, patiently waiting for the heroes to show up. The outdoor areas were beautiful, but the indoor dungeon areas (where you spend ~80% of the gameplay) are without a doubt the most bland, EMPTY, repetitive, and unnecessarily huge dungeons in an FF game. Hell, the last dungeon is a huge tower with floor after floor that consist of little rectangular rooms, with the same brick texture on all of them. Most of these rooms have NOTHING in them whatsoever. A few have one little treasure chest sitting in the corner. Throughout the entire game I was thinking to myself "who would build this huge fucking dungeon with gigantic rectangular rooms and hallways, and then put nothing in it?" FF XII is a huge departure from previous FF's dungeons, most of which were interesting works of art that begged to be explored.

Oh, and don't forget the randomized treasure chests that contain useless crap 99% of the time. And, thanks to it being randomized, you have no way of knowing whether you're missing something good, except to keep exiting and letting the treasure respawn (or using a guide). I played FF XII up until the shitty last dungeon, and only one time in the entire game did I find a weapon in a treasure chest that was stronger than what I could buy at the shops. So, not only are the dungeons boring as hell to explore in their own right, but they don't even give you a good reward at the end for doing so.

Look, I have been a huge FF nerd since FF1 for the NES. I chose Playstation over Saturn as soon as I saw the next FF game would be on the PSX (in fact, I still have my Cloud Strife t-shirt for pre-ordering FF7 from Electronics Boutique). I defended FF7 when people whined that it wasn't FF6, I defended FF8 when people whined that it was too different, I defended FF9 when people whined that it was too oldschool, I bought a PS2 w/FFX the day it came out, and I got FF XII at midnight launch (and even won the costume competition at my local Gamestop). There is just no way that I can defend FF XII. It's by far the most disappointing numbered FF game (excluding XI, which I refuse to play).

Re:Article Summary (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#18295814)

Vaan and Panelo barely even talked in the game, other than short scenes with them goofing around with Larsa. You literally could have removed them from the game's plot with no trouble. Ashe was the main character, not Vaan. They had a couple things in there that hinted at Vaan actually being important, but they ditched them later in the plot.

I also didn't like how espers were worthless. I spent a lot of time building up, doing hunts, and trying to get espers. Finally, I just felt like it was worthless. I already had the best weapon in the game (Zodiac Spear), espers were worthless, and none of these quests were giving me anything usefull.

They could have condensed the game into 15 hours if they wanted to.

Re:Article Summary (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290450)

You're kidding, right?

Then you get a lot of gambits and you realize the game really does just play itself. (If you're not a complete moron, I mean.)

You're kidding, right? Did you never step into, say, Pharos Subterra or the Henne Mines' extra dig (esp. the abysteel switch)? Did you not, say, get Cuchulain as soon as it was available? Did you not get Zodiark, or beat Yiazmat and Omega? Are you going to say that you did all of these with the exact same gambits? Obviously not. Yes, easy areas play themself. To that, I say "Good!" If I'm level 99, I don't want to have to click through every little wolf fight. I've always liked the concept of "automatically fight easy battles for you" ever since I first encountered it in Earthbound.

As for the plot, I found it to be somewhere between second and fourth best (although I never played X or XI -- IX turned me off enough to the series that I didn't want to bother again until recently). My ranking, excluding XII, would be something like FFT first, VI and VII second. This game was so much better written than many others. Vayne, giving a speech early on worthy of a Roman orator. Cid with his pet "demon", ala Faust. Enemy motives that are not just "evil" or "insane". Imperials that can, at times, be almost sympathetic or come across as truly believing that Arcadia is occupying Dalmasca for its own good (also ala Rome -- or, more pointedly, US/Iraq). Even sympathetic Judges. Compare the scene of Ashe talking to Omdore, her uncle, begging his aide, to the similar scene of Dagger asking King Cid of Lindblum (her uncle) in IX for aid -- the writing is just so much better in this one.

It's far from perfect, however. There were a few times that they delved into the cheesy old FF fallback:

Bad guy: [Mean insult or general rudeness, accompanied with a laugh, gloating, and/or insistance on submission.]
Good guy: ["Witty" remark turning insult on its head]
Bad guy: "WHAT DID YOU SAY?!?" (or "YOU INSOLENT...!!!")

Not that much of that, though. Certainly nothing like IX. Also, while the voice acting was generally quite good (except for Vaan), the body motions were often over-exaggerated, overly dramatic. Kytes is a glaring example of this.

Re:Article Summary (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291388)

Not that much of that, though. Certainly nothing like IX. Also, while the voice acting was generally quite good (except for Vaan), the body motions were often over-exaggerated, overly dramatic. Kytes is a glaring example of this.

Still better them the random emoting of FFX. The flailing really got on my nerves in FFX.

Where most of the time was spent (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18287588)

70% was spent on art. Of the resources dedicate to art, 95% of it was dedicating to finding angles/excuses to show Fran's bare ass or make the princess give out a gasp (which sounded more like a sexual moan) every cutscene.

Re:Where most of the time was spent (2, Funny)

robson (60067) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290270)

Of the resources dedicate to art, 95% of it was dedicating to finding angles/excuses to show Fran's bare ass or make the princess give out a gasp (which sounded more like a sexual moan) every cutscene.

So... money well-spent, you're saying.

So, in other words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18287790)

So, in other words, Final Fantasy games focus more on art than on gameplay.

Wow. I could have told you that when they released FF6, a game with nice shiny graphics but fundamental bugs that broke the game, including one character who was a crash bug with the potential to corrupt save data. But the game included a 3D opening! (Really. It did. On the SNES, back in 1994. Not the world's best 3D, but a pointless 3D segment none-the-less.)

quality (1)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18287928)

if you have played FFXII you can see what this produced. Not every game can get a perfect 10/10 on faimitsu. The dark tactics/ vagrant story style of game really fits here.

Telling us what we already know? (2, Interesting)

Lenneth-chan (926055) | more than 7 years ago | (#18287936)

I know I don't play Final Fantasy games because they're innovative. I play Final Fantasy games because they're damn gorgeous. Besides, when was the last time any of you played an RPG that doesn't suffer from the same worries/problems that FFXII does?

Re:Telling us what we already know? (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288704)

I know I don't play Final Fantasy games because they're innovative. I play Final Fantasy games because they're damn gorgeous. Besides, when was the last time any of you played an RPG that doesn't suffer from the same worries/problems that FFXII does?

I don't know about FFXII specifically, but after spending a seeming eternity in cut-scene after cut-scene in FFX, I pretty much decided I was done with the series. I buy RPGs to play the game, not to watch a movie.

Re:Telling us what we already know? (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291710)

You can skip all the cut scenes and a "objective" is listed on the maps so you don't miss anythign critical if you skip them all. I know I dispised long unskipable cutscenes. Especially ones that end in a hard boss battle. That annoyed me about Xenogears.

Re:Telling us what we already know? (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18292026)

That annoyed me about Xenogears.

You don't play Xenosaga, you help Xenosaga play itself.

Re:Telling us what we already know? (1)

Manmademan (952354) | more than 7 years ago | (#18313243)

I'm not sure if you know this already or not, but Xenogears and Xenosaga are two VERY different games. There are one or two cutscenes in Xenogears (and a LOT of in-game dialogue) but nowhere near the half hour long cutscenes xenosaga has.

Re:Telling us what we already know? (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18315101)

No, I did indeed think they were the same. I'll think about trying Xenogears if I happen by it in the used bin now, but still wouldn't go out of my way to pick it up. Xenosaga was just too much of a train wreck compared to the reviews.

Re:Telling us what we already know? (1)

IntergalacticWalrus (720648) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289560)

I know I don't play Final Fantasy games because they're innovative. I play Final Fantasy games because they're damn gorgeous.

Thanks for reminding me why I stopped playing RPGs (or at least the Japanese kind). When I want to see pretty CG, I go see a damn movie. When I want to experience a good story, I go read a damn book. But when I play a game, I want to PLAY A GAME.

RPGs stopped being interesting to me when I grew up and became a busy adult who wants to maximize his ever-decreasing free time allocated to video games. Nowadays it's mostly arcade-ish and FPS-ish games for me, where the emphasis on gameplay is put to the maximum, with little to no time wasted on staring at pretty pictures or developing a story. Some great games manage to do all of those without sacrificing gameplay, but Japanese RPGs are basically the complete opposite of that idea.

Re:Telling us what we already know? (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289978)

I was pretty anti-RPG until I finally broke down and bought a PS2 recently. (The PS2 seems to have a ton of good RPGish games, I bought it for Katamari, but what do you play when you're done with Katamari? That's another story...)

Honestly, I can't stand to sit still through movies. I need to be doing something. Sitting and getting involved in a book is completely out of the picture.

The nice thing about RPGs is you can play a little bit, accomplish something in the game, and then turn it off. The game will last weeks at 1-2 hours a day. You can pause it and go do laundry or read wikipedia or whatever. It's like a book or movie, but interactive and at your own pace.

It took me being incredibly sick to actually sit down and figure out that RPGs ain't that bad. They're just hard to get started with, but once they're started they're quite enjoyable.

Re:Telling us what we already know? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18302046)

The nice thing about RPGs is you can play a little bit, accomplish something in the game, and then turn it off.

The problem with that is that most console RPGs use savepoints as your only way to save and those points tend to be half an hour or more apart once the game gets going (some games go up to two hours between savepoints in later dungeons). Just playing for a few minutes won't let you progress because you can't save.

Re:Telling us what we already know? (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291490)

RPGs stopped being interesting to me when I grew up and became a busy adult who wants to maximize his ever-decreasing free time allocated to video games. Nowadays it's mostly arcade-ish and FPS-ish games for me, where the emphasis on gameplay is put to the maximum, with little to no time wasted on staring at pretty pictures or developing a story. Some great games manage to do all of those without sacrificing gameplay, but Japanese RPGs are basically the complete opposite of that idea.

You have games like tales of symphonia which give you more to do when playing the rpg part. It's subjective. I found the gambits in this game and the munchkining potential to be the most fun. Trackign down rare monsters, making rare gear, one hitting bosses, being 99 2/3 of the way through the game, taking out the optional bosses. But indeed some people would rather jump into a war 3 DOTA game get their Video games in 1h doses of pure gameplay or a quick CS:source match. To each their own.

Re:Telling us what we already know? (1)

revlayle (964221) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290834)

Fallout 1 (2 also, but 1 has a better plout - 2 has more game time), Ultima (up to 6), Planescape: Torment, Balder's Gate 1+2, KOTOR 1 (*not* 2, sorry), yes, even Jade Empire, plus others I am sure also (but I can't think of right now :( )

True, some of these games have their own set of problems; however, in my opinion, certainly *not* any of the ones the FFXII suffers from

Real Reason To play (1)

Nazmun (590998) | more than 7 years ago | (#18293142)

My person reasons for playing the ff series were interesting storyline + great gameplay. While not overly difficult ffx and earlier provided that for me. I like movies and i don't really care if ffx depends on being half that because it was interesting to me and it had sufficient battles that were interesting.

FFXII's story was neither interesting (political but the characters were barely flushed out and it was more event based then anything) nor did the battles resemble anything fun after a while. The license system was simply tedious.

Same thing everywhere (1)

andr0meda (167375) | more than 7 years ago | (#18287982)

The article names exactly those issues that you will find in every game development process, not just FF12's. I can imagine that the number of people working on this specific game is much higher than in other productions, and probably makes problems in communication and verification much more prominent. But as far as the numbers in TFA are concerned, they don't seem to be any different than standard.

Even for the simplest game, a developer will seek to develop on the target machine, and running on the target output, which is the TV. The huge demand for content is not just a FF12 feat., you will find it in every kind of game. Even the timespan of other games is not so much different. Take e.g. Unreal3's based games.. or HalfLife..

I think Mr. Lee should not have gone to the GDC, because his review article is full of fan-boy [1up.com] drool and not much else.. I don't know why this was even posted on /.

FFXII (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#18288978)

Maybe it's just me but I found FFXII to be frustrating to the point of unplayable. I love the world and how pretty it is but I just can't play the game.

The combat system just isn't fun and makes no sense to me. Vaan stands around for ten seconds going "ho hum time to get hit" while I just told him to smash some guys face in with a sword. WHY!? All it does is remind me of laggy MMORPGs and that Vaan needs to stop being such a skinny little gimp and start hitting things if he even wants to be a real pirate.

Re:FFXII (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289428)

Characters atack every 2-3 seconds or so don't they? That's not too horrible... most RPGs have some internal timer that determines when your next attack is. In Guild Wars it's between 1.33 and 2.5 seconds or something, depending on your weapon. In Baldur's Gate there was an internal 'round' of combat that lasted 6 seconds or so, since DND is kinda turn-based.

Maybe you haven't ever played BG or something like KOTOR, because to me it seemed like FFXII borrowed a lot from those games in terms of combat system design. It added a lot of other great things, though, such as the whole gambit system (the reason I don't mind battles in FFXII is basically that I can sit back and watch the AI I set for them go to work -- very convenient for those lengthy boss battles).

Granted there's a bit of a learning curve because of all of the potential complexity (and if you don't use gambits, then the combat can actually get *really tedious* I admit). But if you really try to exploit the combat system fully, I think you'll start to like it. It's basically a smarter version of the DND-style system pioneered by Bioware.

Re:FFXII (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291544)

Characters atack every 2-3 seconds or so don't they? That's not too horrible... most RPGs have some internal timer that determines when your next attack is. In Guild Wars it's between 1.33 and 2.5 seconds or something, depending on your weapon. In Baldur's Gate there was an internal 'round' of combat that lasted 6 seconds or so, since DND is kinda turn-based

Once you get some speed licences and haste it's an attack every 0.5s with quick weapons like the zodiac spear.

Re:FFXII (1)

demi (17616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18319753)

I don't think that's what he's talking about. I'm only a few hours in, and I think I have set my gambits correctly, but darn if Vaan doesn't just sit there in combats not attacking anything. I'm not talking about the 2-3s wait for his action bar to fill up--it doesn't fill up, he doesn't attack anything, even when he's the leader, his one gambit is to attack the foe the leader is targeting, gambits are enabled and I've chosen the Attack action to the foe I want to concentrate on. I can't figure it out--it's causing problems with the battery mimics. I'm just assuming I've missed something and hoping the fix will occur to me, but yeah, so far I'm just getting frustrated by it.

Re:FFXII (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18321161)

lol. Sorry. You mis understand that gambit. IF Vaan is the leader and he has only the gambit "attack foe leaders targeting", he will never do anything because he is leader, and isn't currently targetting anyone. Try "attack nearest foe" or "attack foe targetting leader." It's obvious when someone points it out but the leader needs a different set then the rest. For optimal kill speed I have my leader target nearest and the rest target leaders target. For money and gear hunting I steal with leader and have the rest target leaders target. I steal once, my team mate kills the target. I don't know if you have a background in programming but it's super obvious if you do.

Re:FFXII (1)

demi (17616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322291)

Granted, I'm only a bit in, but what I want to do is choose an opponent and have each of the physical fighters in the party concentrate on that one. I don't want them choosing nearest (because they will not then concentrate), and for the leader, I want to choose what to attack, so that their target does not change. From your post, it doesn't sound like I can do that (at the moment?).

What I don't want to have happen is for the leader to change their target unless I intervene. I don't want the leader targeting nearest because a rat comes up and changes everyone's target. Essentially the same shift and/or ambiguity would happen with foe targeting leader (there could be more than one and it can change. Should I just turn gambits off for the leader if all I want him to do is pound something?

See, I do have a background in programming, but the gambits are "smart-ish" in an ambiguous way (for example, the way the First Aid action happens upon an ally getting damaged, rather than whenever there's someone to heal--that's not "obvious", you have to understand the undocumented rule about how that works.

Re:FFXII (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322947)

It can work exactly how you want it. if you have this set up

Leader
Attack -> nearest foe

2nd hero
Attack -> leaders target

3rd hero
Attack -> leaders target

This will allow you to all attack the foe nearest the leader. If you manually change leaders target the other 2 will as well. The AI prioritizes gambits from top to bottom. The top most action with a valid condition executes. If you want to use first aid when someone is weak then you need

Character
First aid -> Ally hp critical

Certain abilities like "haste" and "esuna" are smart. They will only cast them on valid targets. IE, someone unhasted or someone with a debuff. Others that don't have invalid targets needs a good condition. For instance you can always attack so setting

attack -> ally

and putting at the top slot means you will always attack an ally regaurdless fo any gambits that follow. In a strange way it's like programing is lisp. It's an infinite loop that scans for valid actions. The first valid condition triggers the action. It then restarts from the top after the action is done. Remember the leader needs a different set then the others if your using any of of the "leaders target" conditions.

Re:FFXII (1)

demi (17616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18340641)

Leader
Attack -> nearest foe

I appreciate your help! However, that is not what I want. For the most part, I want to concentrate on one opponent until it's down. I don't want the fact that a bat flies closer to the leader to stop him pounding on the spider, know what I mean?

I have followed your suggestion and it works "fine," I definitely appreciate it, but it's not quite what I want and I'm surprised I can't do something I want to do so early in figuring it out.

In a strange way it's like programing is lisp.

It seems more like Prolog to me, but I take your meaning. Thanks again!

Re:FFXII (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18341419)

some later gambit can allow you to kill one wihtout switching targets like

attack->foe lowest str

or

attack->foe lowest max hp

any of the foe stat conditions almost garentee single target action.

attacking nearest often gives you the best results since there is a slight lag between leader actions and the others. The later gambits help you taylor your behavior much better. At some points you really long for a certain condition then 5 min later you can buy it fromt he shop. it's pretty comprehensive.

Re:FFXII (1)

Chainsaw Karate (869210) | more than 7 years ago | (#18292884)

It just looks stupid and feels awkward. You can move your characters around in real-time, run up and start humping your enemies, but each character just stands there patiently waiting for his/her turn to swing a weapon. It never really looks like they are engaged in a fight. FF X-2 managed to make its battles resemble a real fight at least somewhat, so I don't know why they failed so bad with XII.

Even Skies of Arcadia managed to solve this problem a long time ago. In SoA, your characters continuously traded blows with your enemy, but the only hits that "count" are the ones that you input. So, it was a turn-based game but it effectively created the illusion that you were in a continuous battle. I wish FF XII would've done this. It would've looked and felt much more natural.

Re:FFXII (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#18293038)

Point taken about the "continuous blows;" that's what Baldur's Gate did if I remember correctly. Characters swung continuously but only 1 attack per "round" was actually calculated. FFXII could probably have done this, but I can't say for certain that it wouldn't have created a lot of confusion for many players. Hard to say, I think, without actually trying it out.

To be fair, JRPGs were never about realistic combat. They're slowly moving in that direction (White Knight looks particularly good in that regard), but games like Elder Scrolls are lightyears ahead of something like FFXII in that regard (despite still having lots of room for improvement). An RPG with Ninja Gaiden-style combat? count me in :-) but I don't see one even on the horizon, sadly.

Re:FFXII (1)

dolby2 (196255) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289758)

Wierd, I thought that was the best part of FFXII, the new Battle System. If they took that battle system and the way you could explore the world and stuck it with the plot from FFX they would have the perfect game imo.

Re:FFXII (1)

Lance Manthrob (1073730) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289994)

The biggest problem I had with the game is the lack of character development. You would think that a game that takes over 40 hours to beat would manage to explain at least 3 of the characters backgrounds, but it really only manages to cover 2 in my opinion. Plot details like why Balthier left his country and father, why Fran left her village 50 years ago are just glazed over and never even addressed. I suppose it adds a little bit of mystique to the characters, but more than anything it just made me wonder what in the hell they were doing in my party. ESPECIALLY Penelo. If there had ever been a more useless character, I have yet to meet one. Hell, even Chu-chu, the little pink toy thing from Xenogears had more of a backstory than Penelo's sorry ass.

The game does look gorgeous though, and that was one of the reasons why I played it all the way through. The music was alright, can't recall anything all the good or bad with it, but a lot of games have that affect on me. You can definitely tell that they spent most of there money in the art just by looking at it, it reminds me a lot of KOTOR for the Xbox just with more detail thrown in.

I also found it annoying how few sidequests or minigames there were in the game. That was something that all the previous games managed to do pretty well, and there were decent rewards for them. In this game all you really have is the Clan Centurio monster hunts for which the reward is the most powerful weapon in the game after you have already beaten the most powerful monster in the game. I just can't help but point out how great Final Fantasy VII was in this aspect. You had a overland map in which you could fight chocobos at specific points on it that you could then catch. After you caught them they got sent to a farm where you could breed them together using knowledge you got through the game or, ahem, "other sources". You would then possibly get a new type of chocobo that would allow you to find new areas on the map to explore. Once you had gotten the highest type of chocobo it allowed you to find the best summon in the game. Oh, and you could also use any of those chocobos to race in a casino type place called the Golden Saucer.

That is what sidequests should be about in my opinion. A thing that has overlapping rewards and can be completed by dedication and a thinking, not just mindless leveling. I found nothing of the sort in Final Fantasy XII. Well, except the fishing minigame, but that thing was just bullshit.

Re:FFXII (1)

koreth (409849) | more than 7 years ago | (#18293100)

FFXII had more sidequests than just the clan hunting, though that's obviously the biggest one. There was the "track down the escaped cockatrices" quest, the "cure the sick patient in the desert" quest, creating sunstones, helping out the sisters on the airships, talking the viera in Rabanastre into becoming a warrior, uncovering a bunch of hidden Espers (some of which are actually powerful enough to be useful in combat late in the game), tracking down the bottles of rare liquor in Bhujerba, assembling the four fragments of the medallion (never did finish that one), and a second set of hunts from the guys in the hunters' camp on the beach. Oh, plus a fishing game and a footrace. Those are the ones I found when I was playing; there are probably more.

Re:FFXII (1)

Lance Manthrob (1073730) | more than 7 years ago | (#18295720)

Yes, I did all of those sidequests. I guess it is just the fact that I did not feel fulfilled by any of them in the end that is my biggest gripe. Almost all of them took very little time to beat, and the ones that did take a while were just the same thing over and over again, like the footraces. And at no time in that game did the espers ever prove useful at all. Especially later in the game where they would die in one hit to nearly any of the higher leveled monsters. I really think that the game could have benefitted from a better development process and a more creative writing team. And it isn't that I am not drawn to the political story in this game, I really loved Final Fantasy Tactics and the other games like it. But in those games I was attracted to the characters instead of repulsed as in this game.

Bias (2, Interesting)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289496)

I detect a pretty heavy PC style RPG bias in all the replies so far. The FF crowd enjoy "Role playing" as is reading a book and imagining themselves in that role. Most of the replies come from the pc RPG tradition where your just a walking bunch of stats and take losts of fetch and return quests. The JRPD tradition has you being a slim empheminate walking bunch of stats that has to go on a quest on rails. Both of the styles have their weaknesses. FFXII I found to be a fairly open game for a JRPG. You could start munchkining very early and be insanely powerful. The "automated" combat basically stopped me from having to "press O" a million times a session just to get our of a dungueon.

Apparently you guys are int he minority since it sold insanely well. Perhaps only because of the name but it was fun. Well done. And pretty. You can't even criticize an emo love story. It was all byzantine politics. This one knocked FFVI off the #1 spot for me for FF games.

Re:Bias (1)

jasonmicron (807603) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289616)

This one knocked FFVI off the #1 spot for me for FF games.

Wow, THAT good, eh? I just started playing it and I am having some slight trouble keeping up with everyone and everything in the story but FFVI has been my favorite since its release more than a decade ago.

I hope to have as much fun as you seem to have with the game.

Re:Bias (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291866)

I just started playing it and I am having some slight trouble keeping up with everyone and everything in the story but FFVI has been my favorite since its release more than a decade ago.

Don't bother keeping up with them, they're not going anywhere.

Seriously.

Don't get too excited if you see a cutscene that looks like it might give you some background on one of your characters, because it probably won't.

Some of the characters are just great (Balthier, Fran, the prince dude) but trust me, there's nothing there. You'll keep waiting for it, and... nothing.

Biggest game-series disappointment since Deus Ex 2, IMO.

Re:Bias (2, Informative)

XMyth (266414) | more than 7 years ago | (#18297474)

I gotta say, I somewhat agree with your statement about the characters....it all seems kinda, blah.

The game itself, I love except for the fact that I have to do 50 hunts to be able to do freaking sidequests and get decent weapons.

But, the story line itself....it seemed REALLY good the first half of the game, a lot of build up...and then it seems like the writers just lost their way and it got real blurry with a bunch of stuff thrown in at the last minute..."He has gotten the sky fortress Bahamut!" WTF???

Re:Bias (1)

jasonmicron (807603) | more than 7 years ago | (#18338197)

Well they're Asian. Those same translators gave us "He set us up the bomb" and "All your base are belong to us". Superior work!

Re:Bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18290032)

Dragon Quest VIII was the PS2's best RPG... best RPG I played since FFIX!

Re:Bias (1)

sepharious (900148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290786)

the combat system is new (for FF) and takes a little getting used to but I like it alot better (it feels more fluid). the game looks amazing and the story line is interesting with just the right amount of characterization. I like the license system, too. I'm only about 20-25%(est., hopefully) in and I'm looking forward to the rest, but I still don't know if I can love it more than VI. *so far*, the characters in XII are not quite as interesting or endearing as VI's BUT there is some promise. Balthier is easily my favorite, with mystical Fran pulling a close second. I'm hoping that the further into the game I get the more inter-character drama there will be, the interplay in VI was what made it so awesome. In some ways FF really reminds me of Heroes the TV show, you have this unlikely group of people brought together by circumstance to accomplish a great task and along the way they deal with problems both personal and global and grow because of it.

That being said, Kefka is still the best FF villain. yeah, that's right, suck it Sephiroth! the only reason that Sephiroth might be more popular is because of CGI on the Playstation. if it weren't for that kickass sequence with the fire in Nibelheim you'd just be another "oh, I'm the tortured pawn of a greater power!" bad guy. Kefka was a stone-cold crazy motherfucker who wanted to rule everything and didn't give a damn who he had to kill to get it. I'm sorry, I shouldn't say he didn't give a damn, he *thoroughly* enjoyed offing anyone or anything even if they weren't in his way. Plus, there's the laugh. Sephy didn't have a laugh... ;)

Re:Bias (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291322)

Although not stictly FF, one of my favorite villians was delita in FF: tactics. He turned from a tragic figure into a villian in a natural and understandable way (although some of the nuance was lost in the piss poor translation). You could understand his hate and sympathize. He was smart and just like any other character, not some all powerful monster (sephiroth). He was a man who was oppressed and betrayed by the system and the player sint he system. So he sets out to change the system and be a player.

Transcript (2, Interesting)

Zimans (1047274) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289680)

Has anyone found a transcript for this talk yet? I'd like to hear the technical details of how they produced FFXII, and not just some fanboy drivel about 'ooh they spent 70% time on art, and that's all I can comment on because I have no idea what they are talking about'. --Zims

Re:Transcript (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18290300)

Gamer news! High on fluff and emotion, low on anything meaningful

SE says we like $$$ more than Matsuno (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18291994)

"Though the session didn't provide any dirt on those interested in the departure of game designer Yasumi Matsuno."

Matsuno got axed likely due to the fact that he was more interested in making a quality game rather than getting it out the door to meet a fiscal period deadline.

Early reports of the FFXII skill system was basically described as similar to the one in FFII, where your characters get better at certain skills the more often they use it. Meaning you can turn your nuker into a melee if you waste long enough time to train him/her with a sword. This was no where to be found but instead was replaced by a simplistic license grid. (Hmm...I can't even swing a sword despite the fact that I'm holding it in my hands? Wha, I need a license!? Who the hell came up with this gem?)

There were supposedly controllable airship battles in the early reports. Again, this was no where to be found. Not to mention the fact that the story basically switched protagonist. It was supposedly to be a story about Vaan becoming a sky pirate. But if you've played through the game we got then you'll realize that Ashe is the real protagonist in the story. The moment she joined your party, the character development for Vaan ceased completely. Just from having played Matsuno's other games, and from the discrepancy in the story an implementation, the structure and direction/or lack thereof, I'm convinced that the game was not made by Matsuno. At best, it was made after having skimmed through Matsuno's initial ideas without actually implementing many of them. You can clearly tell the story was not conceived by one person given how disjointed it is. The writer that took over didn't even remember to close the Marquis' memoirs...

I think basically they said to Matsuno, are you nuts? The game you want to make will take way too long. We want to release it ASAP.

Where'd 12 go wrong? (2, Informative)

Bardez (915334) | more than 7 years ago | (#18293120)

I have to ponder why they spent so much time developing FF 12, and yet it was a bomb -- not in sales, mind you (it's a Final Fantasy for Christ's sake, it WILL SELL), but in plot. Final Fantasy is notorious for having a good plot and/or a good game system. 1 was bland, but by today's standards what can you expect? 2 was awful, but had a really fun battle/leveling system. 3 introduced jobs, even though the plot seemed nonexistent. Then four through, oh, let's say ten had story. And gameplay. They were FUN. Now I bought up 12 at the midnight release, ready to eat it up like, uh, a fat kid and food, and then I found... an MMO. A single-player MMO. And it isn't just me; everyone I know complains about the same thing: FF12 is a dungeon crawl, and not a very good one at that. There's no captivating plot, the characters are all secondary to the game; FF12 is hardly a FF at all.

So why'd 12 go so wrong? "Study long, study wrong?" I wish I knew, but after this, I am not going for the next one nearly as fast as I have for the past FF titles.

Disclaimer: this is opinion, not fact. I didn't feel the game, you might have loved it. Just 'cause my friends (imaginary and not) didn't like it doesn't mean I think nobody liked it. Etc. Etc. Etc., not trying to troll; just curious as to what people think

Re:Where'd 12 go wrong? (1)

Oracle of Bandwidth (528405) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312400)

I'll second that Everyone of my friends grabbed a copy quick (Accounting for the grat sales) and no one has played more than a few hours. One of my friends even commented that "It's like playing the boring parts of wow over and over"
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