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Square Enix to avoid large-scale internal development after  Final Fantasy XIII-2
Square Enix to avoid large-scale internal development after Final Fantasy XIII-2
June 27, 2012 | By Brandon Sheffield

June 27, 2012 | By Brandon Sheffield
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It is well documented that the development of Final Fantasy XIII was fraught with difficulty, and that Square Enix wished to get its franchise back on track. While the game sold very well, it came at a much higher cost than the company would have liked.

"The development time was quite long," admitted Motomu Toriyama, director of FFXIII and FXIII-2, at GDC Taipei. "Within our company, developing on PlayStation for Final Fantasy XIII we required a huge amount of graphical data. ... At the peak, there were over 200 people working on it.” The breakdown there was 180 artists, 30 programmers, and 36 game designers.

"With a large-scale development team, we didn't use our time well," he said. "How do you communicate to everyone in the department what the drive of the game is?" The company had previously been using the story as the basis for development, but as it changed, it was tough to keep that many people abreast of the changes. "We decided we needed to create more practical milestones, not story-based ones."

"Because it's a large-scale project, we had to keep it secret, but this led to user testing happening way too late in the process," he said. "We heard a lot of feedback about things we needed to fix, and we decided we would do that with FFXIII-2. ... We decided that we would have a milestone every month, and realized we needed to applied more Western technology and production techniques. We learned this not only from GDC, but also from Eidos [now owned by Square Enix]."

"We are also thinking that we will not do large-scale internal development any longer." he said. "We have a lot of great creators in Square Enix, but for larger-scale development we will be doing more distributed and outsourced development to reach our targets on time."

Moving to this monthly milestone-type development, "In the beginning of a month we decide the achievements for that month,” he said. “We decide the core of what we need to do, and plan for that."

Development went well for XIII-2, but he still feels it could be better. "We feel like we need to add more buffer time for player testing in the future," he added. "We improved for FFXIII-2, but it's still not enough time to add everything we learn back into the game."

Toriyama also touched on the success of the Asian launch, meaning all parts of Asia that are not Japan. The Chinese and Korean versions were made with the assistance of Sony, helping them achieve a worldwide launch for FFXIII-2.

He further revealed that Final Fantasy XIII sold 350,000 units in Asia, making it the number one third-party game on PlayStation 3, while FFXIII-2 sold 200,000. "This may not seem like a lot," he said, "But compared to other games in Asia, this game even beat our numbers for other markets like Germany and France."


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Comments


Joel Nystrom
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So, Agile has reached Asia. How quaint.

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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Tools and processes are sooo important.

Also, more designers than programmers? wow.

Ben Lewis
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Wonder what this means for FF Versus XIII. Announced in 2009, didn't hit full production until 2011, zero mention of it at E3 2012, and it seems like the dev team would have to be around a similar size of XIII and XIII-2...

Jason Withrow
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As far as I understand it, at least before this announcement was made, it was the Kingdom Hearts team making Versus XIII, no bigger or smaller than usual. That's probably going to change now to include more outsourcing. With such a rocky development cycle, hopefully that's for the best.

Ron Dippold
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'for larger-scale development we will be doing more distributed and outsourced development to reach our targets on time'

That worked out pretty well for you on FF XIV, eh?

Alan Saud
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Wasn't that even proven to be rumor? the source is a website that is more like the Fox News of Japanese pornography and people won't hesitate to spread any misinformation as long as it has Square or FF.

Ron Dippold
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Obviously Sankaku isn't a gold standard, but a quick search for 'ff14 馬鳥 site:2ch.net' turns up plenty of the original futuba posts like http://kamome.2ch.net/test/read.cgi/news/1284693903/l50 . Square-Enix were bragging about working closely with Shanda for this one (http://www.famitsu.com/news/201009/17033708.html). They've also got at least one studio of their own in China and have acquired others like Community Network Software Engine. Not 'outsourced', but distributed. Wada's been talking it up for quite some time now.

So I don't think anything's been proven either way, but would someone in Japan honestly translate Chocobo as Chocopo?

I admit to some bias here - I don't want to believe that Square-Enix has fallen so far that they created FFXIV entirely on their own.

Jeremie Sinic
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@Alan
Truth be told, I have seen quite many news on Sankaku that were reported in more mainstream media days later (of course often avoiding citing the source).

Besides, it has a lot of erotic and quirky content for sure, but you have to admit it has much more humor than Fox News and has an overall critical and incisive tone, especially when treating of otakus' habits :)

Duong Nguyen
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Truthfully those numbers don't seem that "huge" too me. 200 people dev teams are not un-common these days, when your talking about products like MMOs or CRPGs which is very content heavy. What was "huge" was their dev time, which points to more an issue of process and planning. If you don't fix that doesn't matter if you have a dev team of 20 people or 200..

Michael Kelley
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Furthermore, process and planning problems are only exacerbated when outsourcing. But, at least the outsourcee can double as a scapegoat.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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Updating your development methodology requires a change not only in team culture, which is very, very hard to do, but also in corporate culture, which is almost impossible. 90% of time when you try to go from waterfall to agile, you end up with wet agile, which is worse. Yet you should still try...

Daniel Martinez
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"We have a lot of great creators in Square Enix, but for larger-scale development we will be doing more distributed and outsourced development to reach our targets on time."

Outsource your flagship? I will be amazed if the quality of the gameplay, the richness of the environment, and the quality of music does not suffer and it's still FF when it's all said and done.

Joe Wreschnig
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They outsourced Dragon Quest (which debatably is their *actual* flagship, it's a wider franchise and game-for-game has higher Japanese sales) and it went spectacularly well.

Fawzi Mesmar
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Yup, Level 5 did Dragon Quest 8 and it was Awesome

Eduard Morales
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Julien Merceron (Worldwide Technology Director of Square Enix Europe) was at GameLab last week talking about designing the technology strategy for a large publisher (great conference btw). It looks like Motomu has already assimilated the concept :)


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