Experienced Points

Experienced Points
The Final Fantasy VII Remake is a Fantasy

Shamus Young | 4 Jun 2010 21:00
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Fans have been hoping for a current-gen re-make of Final Fantasy VII, more or less forever. FFVII is easily the most popular of the series and its fans have been captivated by the idea of seeing this venerable title realized in the same lavish 3D style given to the more recent games. (No, do not do the fanboy thing on me here. This is the game that expanded into Crisis Core, Before Crisis, Dirge of Cerberus, Last Order, and Advent Children. It's okay if you didn't like it, or liked another entry in the series better. But this game marks the point where Final Fantasy became big in the west and moved beyond the Japanophile niche to become a defining force in gaming. Even if it's not your favorite.) Recently Final Fantasy XIII producer Yoshinori Kitase stated that doing a proper re-make on the PS3 would be prohibitively - perhaps even absurdly - expensive and time consuming.

And the fan reaction to that announcement was sadly predictable. I've read comment after comment accusing Square Enix of lying. Or of being incompetent. Or just a big bunch of meanies who could snap their fingers and make the game appear, but they won't because ... they hate their fans? I guess?

It reminds me of a quote that was making the rounds this week:

"Nothing seems impossible for the person who doesn't have to do it himself."

So let me shed some light on this: Yoshinori Kitase is absolutely right in saying that doing a fully inclusive re-make of the entirety of FFVII using modern-day tech would be a major, major challenge. I'm sure the "forty years" figure being thrown around is just the product of hyperbole, but the fact remains that there is a reason they don't make 'em like they used to. It's the reason I've been banging on about for half a decade. Modern graphics are crazy expensive.

Fans are acting like the game is halfway done because, hey - they already have the script, right? And the gameplay mechanics? Those are done. And they could use the models from one of those other games? Why don't they just do it? They just need to drop in some new graphics and - Boom! Done!

The sad truth is that all of these resources are worthless. "Writing the script" is such a minuscule part of the work that needs to be done that it's hardly worth considering. We're talking a hundred hours of work versus hundreds of thousands of hours of work. (And besides, a script written for a text-based game will need some editing if it's going to be performed by voice actors.) The gameplay mechanics - assuming they wanted to keep the old mechanics and not fuss with them like they always do - also make up a very small portion of the total work. The people saying "they just need to drop in new graphics" are missing the point. That is the part of the game that takes a long time. This is like saying, "We have the script for James Cameron's Avatar, we just need to add some footage and the movie is done!"

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