News: Final Field Design

Final Fantasy VII Remake Development Details Discovered

This week has seen the release of some new Final Fantasy VII Remake information, which is actually old Final Fantasy VII Remake information. Back in July of 2018 Aya Hirayama, head of the Square Enix Human Resources Department, conducted a brief interview with Shinichiro Biwa, who is a planner of the First Business Division, the development team currently working on Final Fantasy VII Remake. This is actually some of the most substantial information that we have received about the game, and explains at length the approach the level designers have taken when redesigning Final Fantasy VII‘s original maps, but because of the language barrier English-speaking gamers have only recently discovered its existence.

We'll certainly see it before Diablo IV.

Will we see this in our lifetimes?

Apparently the designers working on Final Fantasy VII Remake have a lot of creative freedom. Because the game is based on a legacy title there are a lot of immovable parts, but if a dev has an idea they are free to walk up to Nomura and make the proposal directly. The team has felt free to create the game’s fields from the point of view of it being a full action game, though they have had to hold back from including anything that would come into conflict with any of the legacy systems that Nomura has decided to retain. Biwa has taken inspiration from other action games, particularly from the ones where simply maneuvering through the environment can be fun or interesting, so perhaps expect some jumping, climbing, and other context sensitive actions in Final Fantasy VII Remake‘s environments. Apparently the simple shift from 2D to 3D environments has made exploration a much more active process, since points of interest are no longer immediately apparent – at least not necessarily. Now players will have to look around a bit more to find all of an environment’s interaction points.

Biwa states that the field design crew split the creation of new locations into several parts. The first step is to interpret the locations of the original game, which is followed up by planning modifications, additions, and alterations. The team must then get their plans approved during meetings, determine the resources required to implement them, and then actually implementing their design and polishing up the result. When conceiving their designs for each new location, the most important aspect to the design team was to ensure that the location be able to accommodate any event, setpiece, battle and/or character action that the new script requires. The team also carefully designed the verticality of each area, which probably gets back the team wanting to design environments with satisfying action-based traversal. When planning each location the team considers all elements such as scenario, character actions, terrain type, and topography. The ‘resources’ they then consider allocating include character designers, scenario writers, cutscene directors, UI designers, motion directors, people to write text for NPCs, and programmers to squash any bugs. This obviously seems to be in addition to the requisite scripters, programmers, and graphics designers that would naturally be allocated to design each location.

Finally, Biwa confirms that as of July 2018 planning for the game was completely finished, and the building phase for the game had begun in earnest. It is not unrealistic to suppose that we might even see the first part of this trilogy by the end of 2020. It will certainly be out before Diablo IV, which is now cancelled. Final Fantasy VII Remake will obviously be a horrid abomination, but this interview was legitimately interesting, which is why this story goes lite on the usual snark.

Battle Affront

EA was a mistake. Disney was a mistake. This should have been a match made in the fourth circle of Hell, only, in picking EA, Disney chose a partner that was so greedy that it was actually an impediment to their making money. Back in the day LucasArts would license out Star Wars to any competent studio, and then LucasArts would themselves make their own Star Wars games. This was not a zero sum game, Star Wars is used to be a huge IP, and anyone who made a good Star Wars game would make a bundle of money from it without ever negatively impacting the other quality Star Wars games that were in development. EA does not like to compete though, and their broken ass Battlefront games would struggle to sell a fraction what they did if they had to compete against actually competent Star Wars vidya. EA’s Battlefront games did not sell particularly well as it stands, as EA’s instance on forced gambling in children’s toys proved to be absolute anathema to sales!

Disney gets what they deserve.

The gift that keeps on taking!

The Battlefront situation was a fucking circus, but at one time there was at least something to look forward to. Visceral Entertainment, the makers of Dead Space, were working on a linear Star Wars game, and they even had Amy Hennig, of Soul Reaver and Uncharted fame, serving as director on the project. Unfortunately EA shitcanned Visceral Games back in October 2017 on account of the game they were building did not have enough monetisation potential through lootboxes and other assorted exploitative fuckery, and so the game was handed off to EA Vancouver for them to turn into an open world action adventure.

Now just this week, after a year of EA Vancouver working on their game, EA has this week cancelled it (Much like Blizzard has cancelled Diablo IV) because after having a look at their plans they decided that they would not have it out soon enough. And so this Star Wars title that has been worked on for almost as long as Disney has owned the IP has just been binned in favour of another Star Wars game that EA feels they can rush out before Christmas 2020! EA should never have been given the exclusive rights to Star Wars, as these are exactly the kind of results that one would expect!

Angry Investors Launch Class Action Against Activision Blizzard

Boy, Activision Blizzard sure cannot catch a break, can they? Last month they could not dodge a news cycle owing to growing reports of their gutting of Blizzard, the unveiling of Diablo Immortal, and the cancellation of Diablo IV (much to the chagrin of Imitanis). Now this month the headlines are being dominated by their very public divorce from Bungie, and now the resulting class action lawsuit.

All the details of Bungie's separation from Activision were already foreshadowed in their 2010 signing!

Investors might have thought about Googling for the information they wanted before launching a lawsuit…

Activision Blizzard’s separation from Bungie seems so much worse than the usual dissolution of such contracts, because Bungie will retain full ownership over the games. Meanwhile for their part Activision has admitted in an SEC filing that it does not anticipate receiving any revenues from the Destiny IP in 2019, pretty much confirming that they are even being cut off from the revenue streams from the prior Destiny games they have published:

Does not expect to recognize material revenue, operating income or operating loss from the Destiny franchise in 2019.

Bungie must have really played hardball when it came to drawing up the contracts. This is the equivalent of your wife taking everything right down to the ice cube trays when she and the kids leave you.

This situation is not very usual in the video game industry, so it is probably not overly surprising to anybody that Pomerantz Law Firm has initiated a class action law suit on behalf of investors. On this week’s episode of TSM podcast the panelists assumed that the law suit would be based around some possible insider trading, but this is not the case. The central complaint of the law suit is in fact that Activision knew that the end of their contract with Bungie was coming up, and this is something that should have been disclosed:

The complaint alleges that throughout the Class Period, Defendants made materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s business, operational and compliance policies. Specifically, Defendants made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (i) the termination of Activision Blizzard and Bungie’s partnership, giving Bungie full publishing rights and responsibilities for the Destiny franchise, was imminent; (ii) the termination of the two companies’ relationship would foreseeably have a significant negative impact on Activision Blizzard’s revenues; and (iii) as a result, Activision Blizzard’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times.

One is unsure what is more toxic to gaming, Activision or investors in general. Either way neither party is deserving of much sympathy. If one were to give an uneducated guess, then Activision is probably in the clear here. Activision was likely perfectly transparent when they signed their contract with Bungie, but none of the aggrieved investors were with the company back then, since investment never quite ended up working the way it was supposed to, and instead became a bullshit game of shorting stocks based on predatory speculation. That is to say that most investors are extremely short term, and care little about the long term health of the enterprise to which they have attached themselves.

In fact just quickly Googling stories about Bungie’s 2010 signing of a ten year contract with Activision reveals everything that investors wished to know about the nature of their relationship. This is literally taken from the first result:

The developer is working on new intellectual property, and will retain the rights to that IP under the terms of the deal – which was nine months in the making.

There we go. On the face of it this lawsuit seems baseless, unless Activision are expected to reiterate information that is already widely available. That said, if Activision loses this lawsuit then one would not find that overly disagreeable.

3 comments on “News: Final Field Design”

  1. I’m sorry to read about the cancellation of Diablo IV. This is a totally unexpected development and I fear it may hit Imitanis hard.

    The FF7 development details are actually very interesting, and there are glimmers in there of hope–that the developers do seem to care, on at least some level, about the original design of locations. And, there are things which Nomura has decided to keep. But of course, all of this will be weighed out by their junking of the original battle system in favour of some kind of FFXV “hold down the win button” bullshit that will look flashy on screen, but be totally devoid of any challenge or interest.

    Just to clarify on the Pomerantz investigation, the issue isn’t that Bungie owns the IP (which was known in advance). Rather, it is that the separation of Bungie and Activision was coming up, and no one told the shareholders, to wit:

    The complaint alleges that . . . Defendants made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (i) the termination of Activision Blizzard and Bungie’s partnership . . . was imminent.

    The sentence includes, as a subordinate clause, that the split meant Bungie kept the IP, but that is merely descriptive/additional information in the sentence. The main clause is that Activision failed to disclose the split.

    Moreover, there is also a claim that Activision made ‘misleading statements’ to the investors. These may not have been public, and certainly aren’t the sort of thing that the ability to look up on a search engine would necessarily counter. After all, if Activision is telling investors one thing, quietly, and then the investors go and google it and see that there’s a PR statement to the contrary, that misunderstanding is not the fault of the investors. I can totally imagine a situation where they reassured investors, falsely, that if there was ever a break up between Activision and Bungie, that there would be a sort of ‘understanding’ about how strictly the IP would be divided.

    So, I’m not so bullish about Activision’s chances. I think it will depend on the judge, and how friendly that judge is to corporations.

  2. Sqeenix can’t decide how to make a game.
    EA can’t decide how large their game should be.
    ActiBlizzard just can’t.

    At this point I’m almost looking forward to Diablo Immortal. Almost.

  3. @Imitanis: “At this point I’m almost looking forward to Diablo Immortal. Almost.”

    Ask and you shall receive!

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