Final Fantasy XV Suicide Watch
With one month to go until the impending release of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, information pertaining to the Episode Duscae demo has been filtering onto the internets in a particularly noteworthy volume this week. The demo will be available an hour after Final Fantasy Type-0 goes on sale, and is set to last [by Square Enix estimates] a full three hours if the player simply sticks to storyline objectives. The premise of the demo is that the party’s car has broken down, and they need to earn enough money to fix it – either by selling treasure to shops, or by defeating Smoke Eye, a particularly large Behemoth that happens to be blind in one eye. The demo will feature a save system, so players need not finish it all in one sitting. Once players have completed the storyline of the demo, certain other points of interest will then unlock to provide players with some further post demo amusement. Despite featuring a save system, savefiles will not be directly transferable into the full game – though Square Enix are thinking of providing an in-game bonus for anyone with an Episode Duscae savefile on their system.
One point of interest which was readily remarked upon when the final trailer for Final Fantasy Type-0 / Episode Duscae hit the internet, is the fact that the graphics appear to have received a pretty significant downgrade compared to previously released media. The game’s previous meticulous rendering of lush tufts of grass now appear to be muddy and sparse, while the game’s LoD [level of detail] transition now seems much more aggressive, making middle-distance scenery look quite rough. It is possible that the game’s LoD problems are being exacerbated by the demo’s resolution, as Tabata has confirmed that the team has been unable to hit their goal of a 1080p resolution in time for the release of Episode Duscae. That said, the demo still clearly exhibits LoD problems, which will hopefully be rectified for Final Fantasy XV‘s full release. An example of Episode Duscae‘s graphical downgrade can be seen here.
In terms of game systems, several key features have been further clarified this week, and as usual they are a mixed bag. On the unambiguously good end of the spectrum we have the fact that Final Fantasy XV‘s previously mentioned camp sites will function as fast travel points once discovered, so now camping will have a function which is not directly intended to hobble the progress of the player. More dubious is the news that enemies will now flash before performing any major attack, so as to alert players to the fact that they should now be holding the block button. The block button already sounded as though it would make the game too easy, so the least that the game should do is require that players learn to read enemy attack animations.
Lastly, there is the unambiguously disheartening news that the game’s penalty for death seems way too forgiving. So long as there is any party member left alive, they are free to run up to any incapacitated party member and hit a button to revive them [as seen in many shooters]. If the main character’s HP hits zero, they will not in fact die, but rather go into a critical state. Critical state is represented by a gradually depleting critical gauge, and during this time the player can either consume a potion to regain their health, else wait for an AI character to come and revive them. Games like Final Fantasy XIII and Xenoblade Chronicles use very forgiving death mechanics, yet in those games when a player is revived immediately before the fight that killed them, they will find that the enemy’s HP has been replenished – not so Final Fantasy XV, unless the player actually manages to let their critical gauge run down to zero.
One final point of interest is the fact that the game’s basic controller layout has now been announced. The ‘X’ button will be used to jump, while the ‘Square’ button can be held down or tapped in order to execute scripted AI combos. The ‘Triangle’ button is used to execute the character’s equipped special ability, which is derived from a pool of abilities possessed by the character’s currently equipped weapon – the equipped ability can by cycled through by pressing left or right on the dpad. The ‘Circle’ button is used to ‘Shift’ when used normally, or if the player is locked on to an enemy it is then used to ‘Shift Break’, which is essentially a surprise teleportation attack. ‘L1’ is used to block automatically [if held down] or parry [if tapped at the moment of an enemy attack], a function which has been made infantilisingly simple through the inclusion of flashing enemies. Finally, sprinting has been mapped to the ‘L3’ button, much as one would expect to find in a military shooter, and no less obnoxious. One is truly perplexed as to why sprinting could not simply be mapped to one of the trigger buttons.
tri-Ace Is Kill
When looking for suitors JRPG development studios have often had varying fortunes. Most agree that Nintendo’s acquisition of Monolith Soft was a good move, while many bemoaned a beleaguered Sega’s purchase of Atlus [though this marriage actually seems to be working out thus far]. Both of these fates are far removed from the situation that tri-Ace finds itself in this week, with the privately held company’s three largest shareholders [Yoshiharu Gotanda, Masaki Norimoto, Kenji Goshima] hammering out a deal to sell the company to Nepro, a Japanese phone company, for about one million dollars plus 18,300 Nepro shares a piece. Nepro have already announced that they will be re-focusing tri-Ace to work on tablet and smartphone content.
tri-Ace was originally an offshoot of Telenet Japan’s Wolfteam, the developers responsible for Tales of Phantasia. The company rose to prominence in its partnership with Enix [later Square Enix] during the PS1 and PS2 eras where they turned out many popular, if somewhat flawed, action JRPGS with solid battle mechanics – highlights include: Star Ocean 2 & 3, Valkyrie Profile 1 & 2, and Radiata Stories. Things looked somewhat less rosy during the seventh console generation when they foolishly partnered with Microsoft in order to supply the Xbox 360 with exclusive content: Infinite Undiscovery and Star Ocean 4 [the latter was later ported to the PS3 after poor sales]. Both titles were considered to be mediocre. After this tri-Ace would partner with Sega in order to develop Resonance of Fate / End of Eternity, a title which was fairly well received, yet debilitatingly niche. tri-Ace’s other seventh generation home console efforts consisted of the co-development of Square Enix’s two Final Fantasy XIII sequels, while the remainder of their output between 2012 and 2014 was comprised of five mobile games spread across the 3DS and PS Vita, none of which have been released in the West. Given tri-Ace’s seventh generation fortunes it is perhaps not difficult to see why they are now kill. If there is a silver lining to this story, it is the possibility that Motoi Sakuraba might actually be able to take a week off of composition in 2015.
Turds of a Feather
In last week’s news about Peter Molyneux being dragged before the people’s court of public opinion this author expressed the heartfelt wish: “Now if only someone could put John Walker into contact with Tim ‘free money’ Schafer“. That being the case, it seems rather delicious that the world’s second least responsible developer has been steadfastly defended by the absolute nadir of developmental responsibility himself; Tim Schafer. Though of course in coming to his rescue, Schafer may as well have just been defending himself.
The resemblance is actually quite uncanny. Peter Molyneux took 500,000 pounds of PC gamer’s money in order for them to pay for and beta-test a mobile game, while Schafer took over 3,000,000 dollars of PC gamer’s money in order for them to pay for and beta-test a console game – and this is not even going into all the delays, squandered budgets, and non-corporeal backer-tier bonuses that were promised but not delivered upon. They can say what they like, but this does not indicate much in the way of a healthy respect towards their benefactors – but please, do not just take this author’s word on the matter, let us see what Tim Schafer has to say in defense of his fellow conman:
“I’d like to send our support to friend and fellow developer Peter Molyneux. In the last few weeks we’ve seen some extremely rough treatment of Peter on the internet and in the games press and I think it’s really unfortunate and unfair, and I don’t think it’s healthy.
Obviously things did not go as expected with his game and because of that people are making some nasty accusations about Peter, and I can really relate to that, believe it or not. But I’m not saying that developers like Peter and I shouldn’t be responsible and shouldn’t be accountable to deadlines. I’m just saying that the reaction to recent events and the tone of that reaction is really way out of proportion to the seriousness of the events themselves.
Developers are human beings and I think it’s clear that the problems that Peter is having are not unique to him. In fact, they happen on many if not most projects.”
Just in case you missed it:
“I’m just saying that the reaction to recent events and the tone of that reaction is really way out of proportion to the seriousness of the events themselves.”
This statement right here is Tim Schafer in a nutshell. It is the reason that people accost him on the internet. It is all one ever needs know about the man. Tim Schafer is a frivolous lardhead to whom the squandering of three million dollars of backer’s money means very little because it is the sort of thing that he has been doing to publishers for years. Bobby Kotick knew better than to throw good money after bad, which is why Brutal Legend almost never saw the light of day. Given a particular budget, Tim Schafer is not the sort of man to tailor a game’s design to it, rather he will go ahead making the game that he wanted to make, and when the money runs out he will go around with cap in hand begging money from anyone unwise enough to not slap the door in his stupid face upon sight. Both of these developers shit the bed, and now they are complaining at having to sleep in it.