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E3: Sakaguchi Talks Emotional Storytelling, Evolving Turn-Based RPGs

During a behind closed doors meeting at E3 with Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon producer Hironobu Sakaguchi, the famed creator of the Final Fantasy franchise commented on Square Enix’s iconic series, the importance of emotional involveme
During a behind closed doors meeting at E3 with Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon producer Hironobu Sakaguchi, the famed creator of the Final Fantasy franchise commented on Square Enix’s iconic series, the importance of emotional involvement in games, and development benefits of modern console technology. When questioned on the importance of maintaining an emotional tie with the player, and whether or not this link is missing in today’s games, Sakaguchi commented, “I don’t think it’s really lacking, but I’ve been doing this for a long time, so for me the emotional storytelling is very important.” After a storied career with Square, Sakaguchi left the role-playing powerhouse in 2001 to form his own development studio named Mistwalker. Although the company is technically multiformat, with at least one Nintendo DS title (ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat) currently scheduled, it is most closely associated with the Xbox 360 – despite the format’s small userbase in Japan. Mistwalker remains as one of Microsoft’s most important weapons in establishing and maintaining a foothold in the Japanese gaming market with the Xbox 360. Following a demonstration of the Xbox 360 exclusive Lost Odyssey during the meeting, Sakaguchi was questioned on his opinion of the current state of the Final Fantasy franchise he helped create, particularly regarding the use of real-time combat versus the more classic turn-based style. “There are pros and cons for both sides, whether it's turn-based or action-oriented games,” responded Sakaguchi. “For this theme, and this flow, and this design we felt that turn-based is better than action-oriented, so I chose that. There are good parts of turn-based and good parts of action-oriented, and in [Lost Odyssey] I tried to evolve turn-based games to the next generation.” Finally, when asked specifically if there is anything he is able to achieve in his games thanks to newer, more advanced technology, the producer quickly noted “graphical quality” and “programmable shaders.” “Also, the facial expression is something we can do much better on next-generation systems,” added Sakaguchi, commenting that this allows him to “tell stories better with better expressive characters.” While Lost Odyssey does not have a currently have an exact North American released date outside of Q4 2007, Microsoft recently announced that the Mistwalker and Artoon-developed Xbox 360 exclusive RPG Blue Dragon will ship in Europe on August 24 and North America four days later on August 28.

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