Q&A: How Square Enix Cracked Simultaneous Release With The Last Remnant
At Tokyo Game Show, under the auspices of Microsoft, Square Enix showed off a completed build of its first Unreal Engine 3 game, The Last Remnant, developed at its Tokyo studio under the command of a team of Square Enix veterans, director Hiroshi Takai and art producer Yusuke Naora.
Here, the two answer questions about the company's first attempt to create a game that will have a simultaneous worldwide release -- on the Xbox 360, at least, where the game will ship next month in all three major territories.
Unfortunately, the PlayStation 3 version has been delayed (and questions about it were rebuffed by a Square Enix representative under the umbrella of Microsoft's sponsorship of the game's appearance at Tokyo Game Show.)
How does the team feel now about your first project using Unreal Engine 3?
Hiroshi Takai: Working on Unreal Engine has just been a very different way of thinking than we've created games in the past. It took us a while to sort of get the hang of, "Oh, this is the way that we have to make it do things on Unreal, versus what we've done before."
But once we got the hang of that, things went really smoothly -- we really haven't had any problems. I'm actually looking forward to trying out the next version of Unreal right now.
You alluded that there were some differences from using the Unreal technology from your internal technology. Can you elaborate on those differences and whether they presented difficulties, or new opportunities, during development.
HT: At first, we thought that we had begun something really difficult. As we got used to using Unreal, we definitely got a lot of new ways of thinking, and plus benefits in game development -- so like, speed, and workflow, and everything.
Yusuke Naora: The staff got so used to using Unreal, now they enjoy playing around with the engine a lot.
This game was originally conceived as Square Enix's worldwide product, to work and be successful in every territory. I want to talk about how that became an important part of the game and story design, and how you feel you've succeeded at that goal.
HT: Probably the main thing was, we started purely wanting to think that we wanted to make a multilingual game. We started from the beginning saying that we want the release to be simultaneous localization, simultaneous release.
So, thinking of the other markets, we tried maybe to have more realistic characters, so it was not so fantastic, not so, "Well, this does really well in Japan."
This will be more accessible to people everywhere. Also with naming and other things, we tried not to use too much English that makes sense to Japanese people but not necessarily to English speakers.
YN: Another thing to note is that the motion capture has been done with western actors all the way, and that feedback from actors acting, literally changed our way of thinking in designing the motion and everything.
It affected the story as well. There has been a good mix of the Japanese team and motion capture actresses and actors.