I wanted to talk to you about the fact that you're collaborating with Square Enix Visual Works in Tokyo, which is pretty fascinating.
SD: Very much so. This is a great story. Square Enix bought us in April 2009. And in that period of the year, we were starting to plan our CGI trailers for Deus Ex. Initially, my thought was, "Well, we obviously know that the people at Square Enix are doing great CGI, but they must be booked until 2030." [laughs] And I didn't even entertain the idea of having them working.
But we went through a process, and at a certain point, we came out with a pitch, a nice pitch for the trailer. We were at the junction point where we needed to find a partner to produce the CGI, and that's one morning I remembered very vividly in the month of June. I said, "I think I need to call Phil [Rogers], my CEO, to throw him the idea. Is it worth it to ask Tokyo if they have people availability?"
So he says, "It doesn't cost anything to ask." So, he calls [Square Enix president and CEO Yoichi] Wada-san. So, it's the phone chain. Finally, Wada-san and several of his directors of Visual Works flew to Montreal, 16 hours of flight, for a one-day meeting. [laughs] So, that was very crucial.
I will always remember that day, and we did our pitch for the trailer. In the process of decision-making, it went quite rapidly, and they said, "Yes, this is too much of a good opportunity to start collaboration. We'll make space in our schedule at Visual Works. This will be the first real concrete collaborative deliverable." And it worked out so nicely. So, I'm very, very glad that our studio was implicated.
How was the process of working across that distance? And as far as I'm aware, the only other game Visual Works contributed to that wasn't internally developed by Square Enix was Star Ocean: The Last Hope. So, it's a new process for them, too.
SD: Yes. Very good point. So yes, when everybody says, "Yes, we want do this," how do we manage this now? [laughs] So, yes, I think the complications were always put on top of the list of things we needed to understand, that there are no stupid questions.
Language is obviously something that we need to handle, but we had good support from the people at Square Enix Los Angeles. So, when the emails have to go through and be translated, we were able to do this quite efficiently. It was not without challenge, I must say. A lot of sweat, a lot of blood, a lot of labor of love again...
We had a couple of meetings face-to-face, and that really accelerates the problem-solving, the misinterpretations. Obviously, they could not be in Montreal every week, but every time now and then, we called the meetings, and that truly helped. So, it wasn't without difficulty, but everybody believed in the potential, and that makes a whole difference.
The newest trailer is very visually arresting, which is what we expect from Square Enix. Is the aesthetic all derived from Montreal? Or is it a collaborative approach?
SD: Good question again. When I mentioned that the concept pitch was accepted, this came, and they're on the credits of the trailer. It's a small -- not small anymore -- but a small Vancouver-based group called Goldtooth. And they pitched us.
The concept pitch that we retained was from them, and we kept them after their pitch to be the intermediate between Montreal and Tokyo because our dev team didn't have sufficient staff to fully support the trailer.
So, they understood our vision, our values of the game, and they were able to transmit this. And they were working very closely with Square Enix. But when major decisions were to be taken, all three of us needed to be around a table or around a conference call to make the call. So, yes, they had a very good pitch that we followed through.
Final Fantasy XIII has got amazing CG, but the real-time visuals really live up to the standard, right? And there's a high-level of consistency between them. I'm assuming that that's an approach that you would like to emulate.
SD: Well anything compared to Final Fantasy when you're talking about cutscenes, it's quite the highest level you can obtain. It's certainly going to be one of our objectives. We're presently exactly working on this topic, the in-game cinematics. So, we'll see the results, I guess.