Remaking old Final Fantasy games would take 'ten times longer'

Final Fantasy XIII-2 producer Yoshinori Kitase talks about why it's difficult to remake older Final Fantasy games for the HD generation.

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Square Enix has been more willing to iterate with sequels to its Final Fantasy games lately, with titles like Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy XIII-2. But if you asked series fans what they'd really like, chances are you'd get a healthy dose of "remake Final Fantasy VII."

Now FFXIII-2 producer Yoshinori Kitase has addressed those requests head-on, explaining that remakes of older titles would take an unreasonable amount of work.

Kitase told OXM UK that newer games like Final Fantasy XIII already have the engine, assets, and even most of the team still in tact. Making a sequel for these titles is relatively easy.

"But if we were to take one of the past Final Fantasy titles and make a sequel to it, I think that would be a lot more challenging because when they were on PlayStation and PlayStation 2 their actual game volume was a lot bigger, kind of," he said. "Graphically they weren't as advanced as they are now, but there were lots of towns and worlds and cities and whatever. So if we were to recreate the same kind of game - sequel or not - with the same volume, but give it a much higher level of graphical quality, it would us take three times, four times, even ten times longer to make such a game. So making a sequel for an old game would be a lot more challenging."

In other words, Final Fantasy VII is a massive game, and newer titles err on the side of dazzling visuals for their fewer environments. If Kitase is right, a remake would have to sell ten times as much to make it worth their while. So next time you pine for Cloud's cross-dressing scene in glorious HD quality, you can remind yourself of the reason it might never happen.

Editor-In-Chief
From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 28, 2011 11:30 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Remaking old Final Fantasy games would take 'ten times longer'.

    Final Fantasy XIII-2 producer Yoshinori Kitase talks about why it's difficult to remake older Final Fantasy games for the HD generation.

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      November 28, 2011 11:39 AM

      TL;DR games back then had substance and depth, today it's about shiney graphics.

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        November 28, 2011 11:40 AM

        Pretty much :(

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        November 28, 2011 11:45 AM

        nailed it.
        "but working is hAAAAaaaard."

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        November 28, 2011 11:47 AM

        That's not really what he's saying though. I think we can all probably appreciate what this really means, as Bioware has said similar things about making another BG2-level title. Older games were cheaper to make and graphically less complex. It's not an issue of "shiney graphics" so much as just keeping your game looking modern for fear of hurting sales.

        To make a modern-looking game costs a lot more, and so you can't necessarily have a dozen huge locations and countless smaller side areas without development time or budget reaching levels that just wouldn't work.

        This is why doing things like FFXIII-2 makes sense. They've already got current-generation assets for all these locations and characters, so writing a new scenario and developing some new gameplay to go with it, along with maybe making a much smaller number of new locations is *MUCH* easier than going back to say, FF7 and trying to create modern assets for a game that was developed back when it was perfectly within budget to design a much larger and more robust title.

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          November 28, 2011 11:48 AM

          So tone it the fuck down then. Cut speech in favour of long text ala Planescape. Cut polygons for simple designs that are stylish.

          I fail to believe just because it's 3D they have to be lazy design wise.

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            November 28, 2011 11:50 AM

            I mean if you want the gloves off the worst part of FFX was the long cutscenes filled with awkward Tidus. Give me "lots of small towns and caves" instead please.

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            November 28, 2011 11:51 AM

            Planescape was 12 years ago. A modern FF title with long text instead of speech would alienate huge portions of the intended audience.

            I think his message is basically that if they made FFVII again, they'd feel like it had to be treated like a modern AAA title, and that includes making it look and sound as good as possible, while retaining everything that made FFVII what it was, which would make for a huge investment.

            Granted, I think it's bullshit that they can't do it. Their dev teams are huge, but given whatever management issues they'd had that made XIII take forever and still have Versus nowhere near completion, maybe it's just not realistic for them to do another big project anytime soon.

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              November 29, 2011 8:46 AM

              It is bullshit that they can't do it, but it DEFINITELY is bullshit that it would be appreciated if they did in fact do it. Seen this happen before and what? Twin Snakes is a POS because the original game is Shakespearean by comparison? I can't blame them for not wanting to bother in the slightest.

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            November 28, 2011 2:02 PM

            a game without voice actor support, huge explosions, slow intro will not sell today - maybe it will attract a niche following but it will never compete against a AAA title.

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            November 28, 2011 5:04 PM

            the sad thing is Nintendo is already doing this and I don't know if their games are benefiting all that much from it. Most japanese developers have been scaling back ever since the beginning of this console generation in an attempt to keep up, and I'm pretty sure it's just something is fundamentally flawed/dysfunctional about their development process. A lot of speeches on game development from the japanese game developers themselves seem to indicate that japanese developers have had huge problems adapting to and using middleware.

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            November 28, 2011 6:49 PM

            I don't think you understand.

            Recording VO lines isn't particularly hard. Polygon count has nothing to do with it either. Creating 10 unique towns with "simple, stylish" design is harder and requires more time than creating one massive city with an identical number of art assets.

            Content takes time to make. Lots of time. The more content the more time.

            Over the years people have often made comments that World of Warcraft looks great because it's style is so good even if the rendering tech isn't pushing the limit. (Maybe not anymore, but certainly when it launched). Creating a game with weak tech and incredible style is just as hard if not harder (and time consuming) than creating a game with average style but amazing tech.

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          November 28, 2011 1:39 PM

          Except that we know there are huge development problems within Square's FF teams. Ridiculous amounts of unused assets because of disconnected teams and poor project management (there were nearly double the art assets and areas created than were used in FF13, according to an article I read a while back). FF12 had a similar issues.

          With the sheer amount of man power and hours going into these modern FF games, we should be getting a shitload more than what flopped out as FF13. I do agree though; with the terrible project leads at Square, it would definitely take 10 times longer to put together a modern FF7.

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            November 28, 2011 2:11 PM

            Yeah, that much is definitely true. I don't think the problem is "The game is too big" so much as "We're too stupid to manage ourselves properly".

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        November 28, 2011 4:22 PM

        yep, basically what he said. LINEAR STUFF IS EASIER LOL.

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      November 28, 2011 11:45 AM

      A Final Fantasy VII remake will sell a minimum of 10 million copies.

      I think they are just retarded.

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        November 28, 2011 11:46 AM

        FFIV did pretty well, I'm sure FFVI and FFVII would do amazing as well. They are teh stupidz

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          November 28, 2011 11:48 AM

          But FFIV was made on the DS, not a modern console, and Square didn't even develop it. Sure, if they remade VI or VII on the DS or 3DS or Vita, it'd be much cheaper but also much less likely to sell 8 billion copies.

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            November 28, 2011 11:51 AM

            I was using it as an example of a FF remake doing well. Given how the vast majority of it would be art and CG work I would think it would be cheaper than trying to also add new game design and story work into that as well.

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        November 28, 2011 4:38 PM

        Too many egos that want to make their own mark.

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          November 28, 2011 7:09 PM

          A terrible thing, a big eggo.

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        November 28, 2011 5:15 PM

        I think the reason they don't is not because they're retarded but because they're legitimately incompetent at making games, and they know it. I think there's this real fear that if they announced an FF7 remake there'd be a good chance it would just get cancelled.

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      November 28, 2011 12:12 PM

      Ya Skyrim is pretty shallow I agree.

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        November 28, 2011 1:14 PM

        Skyrim is actually a pretty good example of this type of thing going on. When you stop and look at the total assets that Skyrim uses there really aren't that many as even a lot of the snow appears to be an effect on the texture and patterns are often repeated. They are arranged in interesting ways, but they are essentially the same (6gb argument and all). With that, however, it seems that total asset work is being overinflated here. Square isn't terribly creative when it comes to monsters so most of that is already done with 13 and if they use a classic world map then the assets seems like it would be about on par with 13.

        Truthfully, though, I would settle just with redone 2D backgrounds and the battle graphics redone.

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      November 28, 2011 12:16 PM

      "So if we were to recreate the same kind of game - sequel or not - with the same volume, but give it a much higher level of graphical quality, it would us take three times, four times, even ten times longer to make such a game. So making a sequel for an old game would be a lot more challenging."

      No it wouldn't. Stop making things up.

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        November 28, 2011 12:24 PM

        The only way I can make it make sense is it might take that many more man hours than the original release did, but that's a stupid comparison to make anyways.

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          November 28, 2011 1:44 PM

          No, he's saying it would take longer to remake a much older title than a more recent title. So, if it took 6 months to re-do ff IX he's claiming it would take 2 years to do VII simply because the team is gone, the tech is older and the assets may not be as readily at hand. Not having the original team and immediate access to assets certainly makes sense. I guess if the older titles really did have more locations that would make sense too. But, it does go to show that FF has been going the wrong route then.

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            November 28, 2011 1:58 PM

            I see, yeah that would make sense too I guess.

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            November 28, 2011 2:13 PM

            Do the assets even matter? I don't know enough about game development stages to say for sure, but I would assume concept and story stuff is much less work (in terms of time and manpower) than actually creating models, animations, gameplay, testing, etc.

            Even if all the FF7 assets are lying around and easy to get, the best they can offer is a basic guideline from which to create entirely new, modern assets.

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            November 28, 2011 3:35 PM

            "Kitase told OXM UK that newer games like Final Fantasy XIII already have the engine, assets, and even most of the team still in tact. Making a sequel for these titles is relatively easy."

            Sounds like he's comparing it to creating new games, not remaking other older titles.

            They sound like they are treating it like a cheap remake with limited staff, but what they really need to do is make it a full fledged 60$ product. It will sell more than FFXIII and would honestly clear up their name a bit with the bad press they've been getting.

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            November 28, 2011 7:45 PM

            That's not what he's saying. He's saying that, because it was so easy to make large areas with low polygon count and really low quality textures with no voice acting and reskinned low quality models you could bosh out a game 10x larger in the same amount of time. A rerelease of FFVII would have to have such a large graphics revamp they'd basically have to rebuild all the environments from scratch in a new engine and it'd take a shit tonne of time to do so and make it look nice.

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      November 28, 2011 12:23 PM

      ..and they wonder why FFXIII tanked... when will they learn that flashy modern graphics are only good for marketing a game for launch numbers. 15mins of fame vs creating a good game that will always sell (Blizzard seems to have this one down). I blame the new console mentality and the ADD generation for all of the above.

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        November 28, 2011 1:00 PM

        "flashy modern graphics"? FFXIII looks great sure, but it's not like it's on some bizarre level of graphical fidelity unmatched by other AAA titles. Pretty much every major game released these days has that level of graphical detail, it's not like Square is somehow dedicating more time to making the graphics look fancy than anything else, it's that they are a poorly-managed company and like many Japanese developers just missed something somewhere that the rest of the world figured out this generation in terms of putting together a good game in a reasonable amount of time.

        I loved FFXIII, but there's no goddamn reason it should've taken so long, nor is there any reason XII should've, or why Versus XIII is *still* probably a year away from release.

        Someone, or many someones in that company are just not able to get it together and in that regard, they're probably right and making a new title (whether it's a remake or not) that contained the amount of content from say, FFVII on a modern platform looking and sounding like a modern AAA title would be a huge task for them and would take goddamn forever.

        It's not that *no one* can do it (hell, Bethesda just put out easily one of the biggest and most content-filled games in ages), but Square probably can't without some major changes at the top.

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        November 28, 2011 1:15 PM

        according to wikipedia it sold 6.2 million copies, surely that cant be it tanking

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          November 28, 2011 1:34 PM

          Sorry, DaM0nkey, the internet has determined that Final Fantasy has no fans and everyone hates it now because it's too faggy and linear.

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            November 28, 2011 3:36 PM

            I feel like I remember Square themselves saying that the giant, big budget game every three or four years thing just wasn't working for them and that they'd like to see smaller, more frequent releases.

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      November 28, 2011 12:24 PM

      Just the fact that he has to address this (because there are lots of people saying that they want a to buy a remake) shows that there a lots of people that will buy the remake. It's not that hard of a concept.

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      November 28, 2011 1:35 PM

      He seems to say this same thing every 2 years.

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      November 28, 2011 2:54 PM

      Well it might be like making another 2 modern final fantasy's. Can their current engine support it, most likely not. So we've got to write an engine that support something that massive and then build the whole game with only a script and storyline for support. If the remake is said to have failed then that is all the money down the drain.

      Alternatively they make a smaller new final fantasy where their creative guys can do something and the hordes of fans are less likely to skin you if you fail.

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      November 28, 2011 3:45 PM

      As some others have said, it would still sell and they would still profit

      But the excuse is invalid... are we not repeatedly seeing remakes of classic games these days?

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        November 28, 2011 4:27 PM

        Serious Sam 3: BFE released last Tuesday. It is essentially a modern interpretation of a now-classic game (Serious Sam). If you do it right, it works.

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        November 28, 2011 4:43 PM

        And how many other HD remakes of RPGs do you see? Can't really compare a game with the scope of FF to something like MGS.

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          November 28, 2011 4:57 PM

          Even the MGS stuff has pretty much just a bump in resolution, no? It's not like they went back and remade the game with modern graphics.

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            November 28, 2011 4:59 PM

            No, they reworked all of the models and environments in them and redid the effects. They basically recreated all of the art related assets for the HD remakes.

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              November 28, 2011 8:13 PM

              Are you sure? They look awfully similar. Either way, they clearly did not do what Square is talking about doing if they were to remake FFVII. The games still look like PS2 titles, not modern generation titles.

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              November 29, 2011 8:33 AM

              No its an upscale job, as in Shadow of the Colossus and Ico.

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      November 28, 2011 4:33 PM

      Games back then relied on story telling. Then it shifted to fucking graphics. Now it's shifting back to story telling with today's graphics. Soon the community will bitch again and it will swing back.

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      November 28, 2011 4:43 PM

      I always assumed that the last act of the "10th anniversary of FFVII that's lasting for 10 years" anniversary celebration would be the a full modern remake of FFVII...part of me hopes it doesn't ever happen.

      I never liked FFVII, partly due to to the game itself and it's mechanics/story, partly due to it's fanbase, and thought it marked the beginning of a much larger turn for the worst for the FF series and Square in general. FFVII, to me, marked the end of the Square that made FF IV, VI and Chrono Trigger (and Rad Racer!) and began the decent into the modern Square of dresspheres and Chrono Crosses. And in a case of Schadenfreude, I'm actually enjoying the cries of the FFVII fans who keep getting their hopes for a remake dashed. Knowing that the fanbase keeps wishing for a FFVII remake and continually getting shot down helps to warm my cold little black heart.

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      November 28, 2011 4:52 PM

      If it's going to take "a really long time" to do, then my only question is why haven't they started yet? Everyone wants this game. Just make it.

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      November 28, 2011 4:53 PM

      "In other words, Final Fantasy VII is a massive game, and newer titles err on the side of dazzling visuals for their fewer environments. If Kitase is right, a remake would have to sell ten times as much to make it worth their while"

      Here's the thing:

      More people would be likely to *ACTUALLY BUY* a FFVII remake, than they are to buy FFXIII-2... :P

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      November 28, 2011 5:05 PM

      excuses, excuses

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      November 28, 2011 5:06 PM

      Square sucks now. They need to quit fucking around and make nostalgia dollars off of their titles that were actually endearing like 6 and 7, and please stop going to the well with the shitty final fantasy bloated JRPG formula and either overhaul/reinvent, or go on to fresher pastures.

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      November 28, 2011 5:42 PM

      if they kept the EXACT same format, with the fixed camera angles and static images but recreated them with newer, more lush HD images....then yes his statements are BS (although it would be cool to see this happen).

      But on the complexity of todays open world style RPG's, he's dead on.

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      November 28, 2011 5:47 PM

      10x more man hours, 10x the budget, sounds about normal. I'm sure most game budgets these days are way larger than 10x what old FF games cost.

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        November 28, 2011 8:31 PM

        He's saying 10x the budget compared to a modern game. FF7's scale is huge compared to just about any modern title and that's because it was a lot easier and faster to make content back then.

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          November 28, 2011 9:52 PM

          I dont believe that for a second

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            November 29, 2011 4:05 AM

            Okay. So... what? Are you saying FF7 with FFXIII-level visuals would cost no more than FFXIII?

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            November 29, 2011 4:06 AM

            Or are you saying that game content wasn't any easier or cheaper to make back then? Because in that case you're just mistaken.

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              November 29, 2011 8:12 AM

              The truth is somewhere in the middle. Square Enix has become a much more cynical and less creative company since they launched FFVII. Although it would require a lot more effort to produce an FF in the PSone era fashion, than say Modern Warfare or Halo, if Nomura wasn't doing 5 projects at once, and Square wasn't making 5 versions of every Final Fantasy game, their products would inherently have a lot more integrity---and the worlds and such would probably be much more intricate and well crafted.

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      November 28, 2011 6:50 PM

      The simple truth is that if their new games were good, not nearly as many people would be asking for the old ones.

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        November 28, 2011 8:13 PM

        That's not really true, pretty much every single major IP that's more than 10 years old has a large number of fans constantly asking them to rehash their favorite title.

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          November 28, 2011 8:26 PM

          Maybe you're right, but I can't help but feel like if the newer games were better things would be different. You do see people asking for remakes of other IPs but the FF crowd seems 'louder'.

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            November 28, 2011 10:42 PM

            I think part of that is due to the whole FF7 tech demo they did on the PS3, along with the Compilation of FF7 stuff (Advent Children, Dirge, Before Crisis, etc) that has kept the game in the forefront of many fans' minds, along with of course it being the very first JRPG for a whole generation of gamers.

            Imagine if Nintendo used Super Metroid or Link to the Past, but rendered real time in modern graphics as a tech demo for a new system. People wouldn't shut up about that for ages, I'd wager.

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      November 28, 2011 7:58 PM

      i'm pretty sure i'd pay 10x the price to play final fantasy VII (not a sequel)

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      November 28, 2011 8:33 PM

      The don't make an exact remake. Cut out the fluff from the game and leave the main story in tact.

      Or remake it in stages, so basically they would turn FFVII into a game trilogy, or even more depending on the volume. That way they can justify the cost.

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      November 28, 2011 8:57 PM

      I understand, so just give me a new console FF Tactics /wo a judge system please.

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      November 29, 2011 3:11 AM

      They could just remake 7 instead of making the "next FF." It would sell just as well if not better. The gameplay wouldnt hold up anyway though.

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      November 29, 2011 4:28 AM

      It doesn't even have to use today's graphics. Seriously, if they remade it using the old FFX engine at a higher resolution it would still be giving the fans what they're asking for. They also wouldn't have to spend time and money developing a new story and concept art, it's all right there.

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        November 29, 2011 4:46 AM

        In fact, why don't they just use Unreal Engine 3 like everyone else and focus on making the game great?

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      December 1, 2011 5:47 PM

      A stupid reason

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