Were you able to put more resources and concentrate on the specific items you chose more so than you had in the past, when you were worried about having a larger variety of gameplay options in the game?
MT: When there are too many elements like we mentioned, it's hard to create a perfectly finished product for every single one of those or to really have them unified into the same feel. There could have been some good parts and some bad parts, but in that aspect, for Final Fantasy XIII, I really feel like we created a unified world as well as a unified game for all of the components.
It seems like the production process for this game drove the decisions that you're making. I think that's pretty common in this generation, too.
When you're sitting down to plan what you can actually accomplish, how much does the kind of production you have to undertake on the current-generation consoles drive that decision-making?
MT: You have to consider the amount of time it took to actually create the game engine, which we built from scratch, as well. With that additional time included, we had to decide what we could and couldn't do.
Now that we do have that base technology, we will be able to do more for the current generation high-def consoles or the next-generation consoles as well, since we have that groundwork built.
So the next time that you see a Final Fantasy, we might be able to pack in more of those elements that existed in the past, and I also think that a game doesn't necessarily need to have every single one of those items in the future. We can create additional downloadable content for people to add, too. It doesn't have to come with the game itself.
A friend of mine, who is another journalist -- we were talking about the game and had a very passionate debate about it. I talked about what I mentioned before: that you chose the things that the series is good at and dropped what it is not. His argument was that, rather than dropping things, you should strive hard to improve them. What do you think about that idea?
MT: (Laughing) You can wait longer for the game so that we can improve those... (everyone laughs) The next title that we create will have those elements -- the improvements to those elements that you had mentioned. However, it's important for us to choose what we can and cannot include, and that's the role of a director: to have to decide what we can accomplish within a certain period of time.
One thing I'm really curious about is the audience for the game, particularly since Final Fantasy changes between entries. How do you define the audience for this game?
MT: Our goal was to create a game that would appeal to the widest amount of users and the widest audience worldwide. 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.
I'm a big fan of the series, and I have many friends who are big fans of the series -- but if you talk to us, the games we love and the games we hate are different. Some people hate the games that I love and vice versa. I'm sure that you've encountered that; I just want to hear your thoughts on that issue.
MT: 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. We created a new battle system that would appeal to them and really bring in new fans.
Recognizing the fact that the games change development teams and change style, you can't completely pin down what Final Fantasy is. Do you worry that you don't define it for your audience if they're not thinking that way? In terms of the fact that, "Oh, this changes development teams!" Most people don't know those sorts of things. Do you worry that you have to redefine what the game is every time that one is made, and not always the same people are involved?
MT: We often get asked that question, and because of that, and for our own thoughts as well, we have clearly defined what Final Fantasy is.
The first 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. 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.
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.