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How Final Fantasy VII conquered 3D and made history

After two years of work and interviews with over thirty people, Polygon has published a massive feature that documents the inception, development, and impact of Final Fantasy VII.
"I remember seeing the lead programmer, Narita-san, struggling to make the characters walk on a 3D surface. When he solved the problem, everybody was so happy with it."

- Final Fantasy VII CG supervisor Kazuyuki Hashimoto recounts one of the struggles and victories he witnessed during the development of the the iconic 3D game.

Polygon’s Final Fantasy VII: An Oral History is anything but a quick read, but the multi-chapter feature is well worth however long it’ll take to work through it. The story, assembled over the course of 2 years from interviews with over 30 developers, offers an incredibly in-depth look at the origins, development, and impact of the first 3D Final Fantasy game.

The oral history is filled with interesting information and history for both Final Fantasy fans and game developers alike. Beyond multiple interviews, the feature is loaded with images, videos, and documents that further detail the difficulties and triumphs faced by the developers of Final Fantasy VII

In one of the many, many interviews found within, developers discussed the decision to kill one of the game’s main characters early on in the game. The team jokes about how Yoshinori Kitase, the Director of Square Japan at the time of the game’s release, had wanted to kill even more characters.

Tetsuya Nomura, Final Fantasy VII’s character and battle visual director, explained that such a decision would’ve lessened the impact of that first significant death.

“When a character in a video game dies, no one thinks it’s that sad. They’re just characters in a game, after all — you can just reset the game and try again, or you can always revive them somehow. I felt that their lives just didn’t have much weight,” explained Tetsuya Nomura, who says fans still confront him about a death from the game to this day. 

“With “life” as our theme for [Final Fantasy VII], I thought we should try depicting a character who really dies for good, who can’t come back. For that death to resonate, it needed to be an important character. So we thought killing off the heroine would allow players to think more deeply about that theme.”

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