Q&A: Final Fantasy XII developers

Art director Hideo Minaba, and character designer Akihiko Yoshida discuss Square Enix's upcoming RPG.


TOKYO--The latest issue of Famitsu magazine features an interview with Final Fantasy XII character designer Akihiko Yoshida and art director Hideo Minaba. Yoshida, who worked on Final Fantasy Tactics, and Minaba, a series veteran since 1992's Final Fantasy V, revealed more details about Square Enix's eagerly awaited role-playing game. An English translation of the interview is below:

Q: When did the development on FFXII begin?

Minaba: Quite some time ago. In the beginning, we started out trying to make a game for PlayOnline, since Matsuno [the director] was involved in that project. It was a really small project, where we were thinking of producing one game in about half a year's time. Yoshida was doing the background artwork and I was doing the character designs for the fun of it. Before we realized it, it was a full-time project.

Yoshida: That's kind of how the game began, but it's not really the official beginning of FFXII's development launch.

Q: We previously heard from Matsuno that Ashe was modeled on a Frenchwoman's bone structure.

Yoshida: The base of her bone structure is a French person's. We were given orders from the start to not make her look like an Asian. But we modified her a bit to look more like a Japanese for the sake of the Japanese audience, and also since a character that looks completely French makes some of the CG expressions difficult.

Q: What about Vaan's modeling?

Yoshida: Vaal is a Dalmascan in this world. He's something like an Asian.

Q: The characters wear skimpy outfits--whose idea was this?

Yoshida: That would be me. [Laughs] This country named Dalmasca is supposed to have a hot climate, so we were thinking of showing off more skin.

Q: It seems like there will be intense battles between the flying vessels.

Minaba: The Dalmascan army and the Empire will fight on their border, which will be the highlight of the opening scene. On the ground, the soldiers will be fighting against soldiers. And in the sky, the flying vessels will be battling against flying vessels. One of the key points [in FFXII] will be about presenting this large number and volume [of characters].

Q: The flying vessels vary in size and design. Will they serve different jobs, such as one being a destroyer and another being a cruiser?

Minaba: Yes. And there will be a battle ship that's over 300 meters in the second half of the game. That's still one of the middle-sized ships in this world, though.

Q: There seems to be a blue ring on top of the flying vessels. Is this an energy source for the ships?

Minaba: The ring itself isn't the energy source. There's something else in the center of it that acts as the energy source. It's a rare material, but there are even more rare materials as well.

Q: Would that be a crystal?

Minaba: Hmmm, We'll see.

Q: In one of the scenes from the trailer, there is a young man who is receiving a sword. The sword appears to be the same design as the one that Ashe is holding, like especially its handle.

Minaba: Hmmm, that's a very keen observation. [Laughs]

[NOTE: In the trailer shown at the recent FFXII press conference, there is a scene where a young warrior with a short gray hair receives a sword from an old man, with a crowd of spectators gathering and watching. In the same scene, Ashe is smiling and parading in a vehicle through the people with a veil covering her face. The scene is most likely from an early part of the game or the opening scene, before Ashe had to leave her country due to the invasion of the Empire. The official CG portrait of Ashe released by Square Enix also shows that Ashe has rings on each of her fingers.]

Q: There is an image where Vaan's status bar is showing off, despite being a field screen.

Yoshida: I wonder if we created any battle fields this time? [laughs]

Minaba: We hope to show that expression of "volume" that we just talked about. There's a limit due to the polygon count, so it'll be a chance for the developers to show their skill.

Q: What is the object that Vaan is holding near his mouth in the image illustration CG?

Minaba: That is called a Star Fruit. The city in the background is the Dalmasca Kingdom, where Vaan grew up.

Q: The limited edition poster that came with Final Fantasy Tactics Advance featured a Judge. It looks a bit similar to the FFXII logo designed by Yoshitaka Amano.

Yoshida: Very keen observation! This poster is actually an image of the "Judge", which governs the power and authority in the world of Ivalice.

Q: There seems to be a number of other races aside from humans, in FFXII.

Minaba: The races in FFIX were modeled on humans, but the races in FFXII are fundamentally different from humans in their biology. We hope to give different characteristics to different races, like we did in FFTA.

Q: Mr. Yoshida designed the Bangaa race for FFTA?

Yoshida: I did the original designs for the Bangaas. They were originally created for FFXII, but came out first in FFTA.

Q: From checking out the images, there seems to be other races aside from the Bangaa and Viera.

Yoshida: There will be other races that did not appear in FFTA.

Q: Will Chocobos be used for transportation purposes?

Yoshida: They'll probably be around for that kind of purpose.

Q: How far is development going?

Minaba: It's pretty complete.

Square Spokesperson: [Interjecting] It's at 70 percent completion.

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