Square Enix Open Up About Adding a Bunch of Shit into VII
Most people are now aware that Final Fantasy VII Remake is emphatically not a remake of Final Fantasy VII. With the game released, the team are now beginning to open up about their decision to not remake Final Fantasy VII. For Kuzushige Nojima it appears to be out of a sincere desire to make Final Fantasy VII Remake a chimera of tropes pilfered from the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII extended canon:
Nojima: As for me, I knew that even though at the very core, this story is about Cloud, the works from the “Compilation of FFVII” have greatly increased [over the years], and I wanted to make something that takes all of those works and combine it into one. Each person who played the original version also has their own vision of the world of FFVII, and I wanted to preserve that too. The results of those feelings are shown within the Remake’s story. These were all the ideas I had, so in the beginning I would initially show it to Nomura-san, and I tried my best to explain them clearly to make sure he didn’t reject them (laughs).
From here Nojima and Nomura talk about their approach to deviating from the original script, and then go on to specifically address their controversial treatment of Sephiroth, Zack, and Aeris:
Nojima: Right, we originally planned to have the storyline diverge only slightly.
Nomura: We thought to have only a subtle change where in the ending you see Biggs alive, which makes you think, “Wait, this is weird…” and gives a slight sense of unease. But then the staff thought, well if there’s room for more scenes, then let’s just add it (laughs). When we did that, there were scenes that we had to say, “No this won’t do,” and removed it from the story. We didn’t add too many new things, but we did leave a few scenes in.
[The take-away here seems to be that the version of Final Fantasy VII Remake that we received was actually the version where tact and restraint was used, and a bunch of additional content was removed from the game because it did not fit the tone of the original game. Off!]
Nojima: I myself added about two or three scenarios to that too….I’m not too sure what happened to those scenarios at the end. (laughs)
—The scenes where Sephiroth appear in have also be greatly added into the storyline.
Nojima: In the beginning we didn’t plan to have him appear so often, more as an overlooming presence instead. During the middle of production, we changed our minds and decided to have him appear more frequently, and suddenly he was in a ton of scenes.
Nomura: At that time, Hamaguchi-san (Co-Director) quietly pulled me aside and said, “I want the characters to fight Sephiroth in Midgar” and consulted me with this idea. In the original story, Sephiroth exists in a different space, and apparently he gathered materials to persuade me to have the battle play out in this way, but I just said, “Okay sure,” and greenlit the idea. (laughs)
[Nice of Nomura to put all that thought and reflection into the decision, right?]
—In the ending of the Remake, Zack is alive, which leads to a contrasting development to the original story. What is the meaning of that scene?
Nomura: That’s the biggest highlight of the mysteries that have been been set up in this scene, isn’t it? (laughs)
[In other words Nomura is JJ Abrams and Zack is a mystery box. Does anyone remember Lost?]
— During the ending, Aerith murmurs, “The sky, how I hate it.” [English localization “I miss it, the steel sky.”] Is there some deep meaning to this?
Nomura: For Aeritih, the sky symbolizes sadness. The people who were dear to her, such as Zack and her mother Ifalna, had all returned to the sky, and the sky that she sees above her in the slums was covered by Shinra too. The calamity that destroyed the Ancients, Jenova, also fell from the sky. All of these incidents remind Aerith of the sky, which is why she says she hates it.
[Fucking what? Did Nomura even bother to play the game before he started to remake it? Aeris is constantly talking about returning to the planet, so what is this returning to the sky shit?]
Finally, Nomura, Nojima, and Kitase all left a message regarding what fans should expect from the next game in the series:
—Lastly, do you have any messages to the fans who have played the FFVII Remake?
Nojima: I’m sure that they had a lot of fun playing it and might have doubts on what will happen from here on out, but please remember those doubts you had since you’ll probably find your answer in future installments.
[Nothing but doubts.]
Nomura: This was a very popular game in the past, and since we are remaking it, the amount of attention it had garnered even before it was released was high, and there are many who voiced their concerns about the game too. However, those concerns did not affect our staff as we put in our all to create this work, and we just hope that people will be interested in it. The base for the Remake has been successfully established with the first installment, so we hope to meet your expectations in the next installment too! However, personally, I think there might be some who think “Since this is the Remake, I don’t need to play the original game anymore and just play the Remake instead,” but I want to prevent people from doing that. The original and the Remake are two separate entities. So even if you play FFVII Remake, I would also like you to play the FFVII original game afterwards as well.
[So Nomura was aware of all of your plebeian concerns, but did not allow them to effect his superior artistic vision!]
Kitase: In this first installment, I think we were able to figure out the exact direction and shape we would like to take with the FFVII Remake. Within the Remake, many hints were strewn along, and we would like fans to get excited and think about on what exactly will happen in the next installments. The theories posted on the internet do reach us, and I think that type of communication between the fans and us will help in creating a story together for all to enjoy.
[Looks like Kitase thinks they nailed the mould for all games going forward.]
If all of this is a bit too much to process then the one point of solace is that any possible sequel appears to be a long way off:
Kitase: On that note, if we are to maintain the same quality and volume as the first installment, then it is unrealistic to say that we can churn out the next one in just one year.
Naughty Dog Attempts to Control Spoilers, Backfires
Spoilers are kind of a big deal on the internet right now, and nowhere are they a bigger deal than at Naughty Dog. The Chinese Plague has not made things easy for the release of games, but most companies would prefer to have a bit of a haphazard release (like Final Fantasy VII Remake) rather than just hit their game with a perpetual delay until such a time as supply channels can be shored up to pre-Covid levels. Naughty Dog had such a strong aversion to spoilers however, that they decided to indefinitely delay their game just to avoid any possibility that people living in one location may receive the game a couple of days earlier than people living in another location. What are they scared of?
The predominant thinking is that The Last of Us 2 was probably going to be pushed all the way back so that it released with the PS5. This plan allegedly posed a huge financial hardship to furloughed Naughty Dog employees, kept at home by the Chinese Plague. Game devs tend to be paid quite poorly, yet are somewhat compensated for this by receiving a large bonus shortly after the game’s release. The Last of Us 2 was to release May 29, and so a nice cash bonus payment appeared to be immanent for Naughty Dog employees. Many employees had been counting on this payment to get them though the quarantine period, but when the game was pushed out to Christmas this financial lifeline was suddenly severed. It has been alleged that several Naughty Dog employees sought an advance on their bonus to get them through quarantine, but were denied. It has also been alleged that the Naughty Dog upper management had no such difficulty in receiving an advance in their bonus. Another allegation making the rounds is that any Naughty Dog employee who resigned mid production had their final week of pay held hostage in an effort to force them to sign an NDA preventing them from discussing Naughty Dog working conditions. The relevance of these allegations will become apparent directly.
The Last of Us 2 got leaked this week. Most, if not all, of the game’s cutscenes are now on the internet. It is a linear story-driven game, and all of that jealously guarded story is now freely available in the comments section under every relevant Youtube video. The footage was leaked by a disgruntled former Naughty Dog employment over a pay dispute – they did not elaborate on this point. The two above allegations are the motives being mooted for leading to this leak. The Last of Us 2 had been set to come out May 29, but then got pushed back to Christmas, before being dragged all the way back again. The game will now release June 19, a mere three weeks after originally intended, only this time after having scrapped all the planning that Sony had put into The Last of Us 2’s May 29 release. Because Neil Druckmann’s pretentions could not handle the possibility that the game might release a couple of days early, Naughty Dog must instead wait an additional three weeks while people are running wild with spoilers. More deliciously, it seems that Naughty Dog’s decision to push back the game’s release may have been directly responsible for a disgruntled employee leaking its cutscenes online. Either that, or Naughty Dog attempts to gag former employees with NDAs has led to this massive spoiler blowout! Their own attempts at forcing secrecy has led to Naughty Dog losing control over all of their secrets – and now everybody knows how terrible the game is. The Last of Us 2 has been spoiled by spoiler oversensitivity.
Naughty Dog Attempts to Control Youtube, Backfires
Even after attempting to control all the information in and around The Last of Us 2, and seeing it backfire spectacularly, Naughty Dog has still not learned their lesson. All of the games cutscenes are now available online, and Sony are melting down trying to fake DMCA all discussion of the game. Last week we saw Square Enix attempt to shut down discourse around Final Fantasy VII Remake by striking videos, but at least in that instance they were striking videos where they had some reasonable case to lay a copyright claim. By contrast Sony has been striking videos that do not even feature any video taken from The Last of Us 2, and then after successfully striking those videos they returned to strike the videos talking about their fraudulent content strikes. Memology 101 had a tweet DMCA claimed by Sony seconds after he posted it! Do Sony really think that they will be able to control all conversation surrounding The Last of Us 2? for almost two months?
Then again, one can well understand why Sony have lost their minds given the content of the leaks. Several months ago Troy Baker had this to say about the game:
I want people to go in open-minded to this story, and allow Joel and Ellie to tell their story — not the story that people think that they want to be told… If people go in open-minded to this thing, I think they will have a completely different experience than if they go in close-minded
Troy Baker was certainly not kidding about that. What Baker probably wanted to say was “My character Joel, the protagonist of the original game, gets beaten to death by a roided up tranny part way through, and then the player spends the rest of the game playing as the tranny as they hunt down Ellie. Most people are going to hate this.” That would have been an entirely appropriate sentiment for him to have expressed.
Gamers were already pissed after hearing about the leak. From there Sony has Streisanded the hell out of the situation by harassing anyone discussing The Last of Us 2’s awful story. The story has already exploded, and yet Sony seem to still think they can control in until late June!