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FFXIII Director: 'Change Is Good'

Final Fantasy games change development teams from entry to entry, and Final Fantasy XIII director Motomu Toriyama told Gamasutra "change is good, and t
Square Enix's Final Fantasy games change development teams from entry to entry, which often results in notably different approaches to the series. Final Fantasy XIII director Motomu Toriyama told Gamasutra in a new feature interview that changing development teams and leadership on the series keeps it fresh, as he brushed aside the idea that the series might lack a clear identity. "The game always changes with each title; there's a new game, and there's a new team. We feel that change is good, and that's one of our tenets," he said. Toriyama described how he defines the series: "The first [objective] is to deliver a game with the newest graphics and the newest technology for the newest hardware -- to really deliver the ultimate technology and beauty for our games -- and the fact that Final Fantasy is always evolving is a main thing," he said. The director added, "The second one is to deliver a story that's truly universal. The story's always the most important aspect of the game, and we really want to touch upon the universal human emotions that anyone in the world can understand. So it's really those two items: one which is always changing, and one which never changes." Toriyama, who also worked on Final Fantasy VII and X, also explained how Square Enix wants to bring in new users with every installment. That is achieved in part by knowing the Final Fantasy audience. Final Fantasy XIII has shipped over 5 million copies worldwide to date. "Our goal was to create a game that would appeal to the widest amount of users and the widest audience worldwide," Toriyama said. "Of course, we created the game for Final Fantasy fans, but with every game that we create for Final Fantasy we always want to bring in new users. So even though we want to please the core users, we also want to make sure that we bring in new fans and appeal regardless of age or nationality worldwide." He added, "For Final Fantasy, each development team is different for each game. Because there's a different director for the game, the teams' strengths and elements come through for each game. For me, I've worked on Final Fantasy VII and X, so the kinds of people who like those games tend to like my games because my vision comes through in each of the games." "However, for Final Fantasy XIII, unlike past games, we really tried to broaden the appeal and bring in new users, whether it's people who like action games or people who really only play shooters," he said. "We created a new battle system that would appeal to them and really bring in new fans." It was 1997's Final Fantasy VII that really got Square Enix thinking about the series as a global brand. "Final Fantasy VII is what really changed our thoughts for the game when it succeeded worldwide; before that, we didn't really think globally. It was mostly domestic. But with that kind of success, the games became bigger worldwide, and the thought was natural to us to begin to think more about the world." As previously reported from that same interview, Toriyama explained how some of the changes the series experienced in Final Fantasy XIII from previous titles was due to a desire to focus on the series' strengths amid time constraints.

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