Experienced Points

Experienced Points
The Final Fantasy VII Remake is a Fantasy

Shamus Young | 4 Jun 2010 21:00
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This isn't like the update for God of War, where they released the game with newer graphical assets. That was updating a game that was already in 3D and ran on last-gen hardware. FFVII was a top-down view game with a lot of 2D assets and it was released two hardware generations ago. There are simply no resources from that game that could be adapted for today. You'd need to start over.

Sure, they have the 3D models for a couple of the central characters that could be imported from one of the more recent spinoff titles. But even those aren't going to be PS3-level quality. And why do a re-make and then cut corners on the central characters by using models designed for the PSP? That would be crazy. In any case, you need to fill a world, here. This isn't like the old days where you could paint people onto the background and make it look like the place is inhabited. Now you need everyone in 3D. From Kalm to Cosmo Canyon. From Costa del Sol to the Golden Saucer. From Junon to Rocket Town. Not to mention everything in Midgar. This game was designed for a different system with different limitations. When they designed Midgar they weren't thinking about the lack of occlusion you'd have if the city were in 3D and viewed at street level.

I (briefly) worked on Black Sigil, a Chrono Trigger-styled jRPG for the Nintendo DS. I've seen what it's like to set up an in-game cutscene in those old titles, and it's nothing compared to the staggering volume of work needed to make just one 3D character. I'd be willing to bet that the effort needed to script all of the cutscenes in FFVII was less than the effort needed to bring Vaan to life in Final Fantasy XII. Just Vaan.

Think about the cutscenes from FFVII. The characters didn't have a lot of different animations, did they? How many times did Cloud do that "head shake" move? The days where a lone scripter can make a character walk two meters, face the camera, shake their head, print some text, and walk off-screen are over. Now you need a motion-capture studio. Motion actors. Voice actors. Then painstakingly set up the lip sync. Build the 3D environments. (Which must be more complete than the old 2D environments, since now the camera can move around and show you things that were always off-screen before.) Set up the textures. The lighting. The camera angles. The material and shader properties of all the items in the scene. In Black Sigil a single scene might take me a day or two. Now that same scene would take dozens of people weeks to accomplish. We're talking about more than two orders of magnitude increase in work being done. There is a reason games now have budgets that rival Hollywood blockbusters.

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