At E3 2006 Square Enix announced Final Fantasy Versus XIII along with Agito XIII and of course Final Fantasy XIII.
In this thread i will give details and info on the development timeline of Versus XIII and why it took so long to be released, in hopes that people will stop being misinformed and will stop going on about the 10 years it took the game to come out or how Nomura takes too long.
First, we need to look at a short timeline of FFXIII's development.
From Japanese Magazine CG world. Issued in January of 2010.
A: Jan 2005 ~ Jun 2005: Developed PS2 version.
B: Jul 2005 ~ Sep 2009: Changed the platform to PS3 after the reception of E3 FF7 demo.
C: Oct 2005 ~ Jun 2006: Developed the E3 FFXIII demo but interrupted the development to make an engine.
D: Jul 2006 ~ Sep 2007: Working on story and storyboard in a smaller team.
E: Oct 2007 ~ Jun 2008: Officially started development.
F: Jul 2008 ~ Sep 2008: Alpha version completed. A 360 port announced.
G: Oct 2008 ~ Dec 2008: Working on the playable demo.
H: ~ Jun 2009: Fixing the game based on the reception of the demo.
I: Jan 2009 ~ :Working on the 360 port.
Square enix started developing an all purpose engine with the intent of using it to develop all of its big HD titles and even the smaller scale ones. This included all 3 FNC games.
Versus XIII was always meant to be released AFTER FFXIII and was also meant to use the same engine. So, Versus XIIIs development is first delayed by the fact that there is no engine to develop it on, at this point the game is stuck in pre-production just like FFXIII.
October 2007 is where FFXIII actually goes into full production and here is the point where we can assume that the Versus XIII will also start creating assets and such.
Here is the second reason Versus XIII will be delayed again. The white tools engine (later renamed crystal tools engine) was very difficult to work with and the XIII team was failing miserably, in turn holding back every other game that was to use the same engine.
SE statement about this way after the release of XIII and why it turned out like it did.
Because we were so focused on creating an engine for next-gen hardware that could be utilized across all platforms, we made the mistake of trying to accommodate every single project that was in progress at the time. In hindsight, it should have been obvious that it would be impossible to fully satisfy all of those needs.
"While Final Fantasy XIII was in production, the development of Crystal Tools caused significant problems and delays. The programmers spent much time on taking all demands from staff into account. Based on this feedback, Murata's team tried to adapt the engine to the needs of several game projects, which proved to be virtually impossible and prevented the engine's specifications from being finalized. Furthermore, as separate groups were working on the individual tools of the engine, there was no comprehensive software documentation to ensure usability and compliance"
As all of this was going on, the staff involved directly with the actual data construction had no choice but to start working before the specs were finalized. Their main concern was that they could not be able to keep up with the schedule if they continued to wait for final decisions.
"Unable to wait any longer, the Final Fantasy XIII team had no choice but to begin creating assets to keep to the game's production schedule. However, the lack of specifications resulted in these assets being incompatible with the engine. In the end, it was decided that Final Fantasy XIII was to be the principal focus of Crystal Tools and the game's team began cooperating with the Research and Development Division more closely to receive the required tools and specifications"
The FFXIII team had essentially wasted their time making assets that could not be used in the final game. In interviews around the games release Kitase had stated that the dev team had so many unused assets they could make a whole game out of them.
Very early Versus XIII prototype using the kh2 engine and some concept arts
Then XIII dev team needs help to quickly finish the game and release it on time since at that point they had to build a full HD FF title in the span of a little more than 2 years
(October 2007 - December 2009).
According to Famitsu, game director Tetsuya Nomura said Final Fantasy Versus XIII has been put "on hold. This is because the entire Versus team is helping to finish XIII"
The Square Enix PR team quickly tried to damage control
When free, some staff from the Versus team have been helping with the XIII team on development of Final Fantasy XIII. Development for both titles is continuing as originally scheduled.
This is quite obviously an attempt to save face, it was obviously bad press for a SE director to just come out and say "the game is on hold" because it makes it obvious that both games are going through development hell.
After the release of Final Fantasy XIII in late December of 2009, Nomura starts giving regular unofficial updates regarding Versus XIII through the 3rd Birthday twitter which was still in development back then.
Nomura also says that the team stopped using Crystal tools as its main engine and started using a heavily customized game-specific engine for the gameplay mechanics with the lighting being done by the Luminous and the Crystal Tools just doing the real-time graphics.
Early 2010 twitter updates show the game is finally progressing for real. First tweet.
Versus has had many difficulties, and past methods of production have been completely inapplicable, but these are the difficulties of birth, so we are working hard. We have a lot to announce, but because we’re going in order, I can’t say too much yet. There have been many questions regarding fields. It’s not complete open world. It’s like the 2D FF games in HD. That is to say in terms of looks it’s not a top-down view it’s like the screenshots that have been released. You’ll move through the world from that view. Versus is currently undergoing voice casting.
June 2010, Story is complete
According to Dengeki PlayStation magazine, the game’s scenario is fully complete. That means the story and script are fully written and finished.
– You can go anywhere on world map (excluding the mountain because it is an open field)
– Battles are completely seamless
– Insomnia modeled after Shinjuku
– Versus will be huge
– Destructible environments
– Cloud movement are done by physical calculations
– Loading only when changing area
– People couldn’t believe when they saw the destruction of a road in realtime
September of 2010
Revealed today on their Japanese Jobs site, Square Enix is looking for battle planners and level design planners for Final Fantasy Versus XIII,
Still not in full production
Final Fantasy Versus XIII isn’t in full production, quite yet. Nomura revealed the game is currently only being worked on by the development team’s core staff. They’re right now experimenting with a lot of “challenges,” and are preparing.
Revealed today on their Japanese Jobs site, Square Enix is looking for battle planners and level design planners for Final Fantasy Versus XIII
TGS 2010, footage behind closed mega theater. Limited viewing
TGS video offered a first look at gameplay — that is, someone was clearly moving a character around. I’m pretty sure that character was Noctis. A series of clips showed Noctis moving around through the streets of a European-style city, first surrounded by other people, and then alone at night. Next, the footage switched to Noctis moving about a vast field. Here, he was joined by monsters, some massive. When referring to the Versus XIII TGS showing, I use “footage” instead of “trailer” because what we were shown wasn’t actually a trailer. The footage was all off-screen, filmed off presumably development units by the development staff. It was set to the same music from past trailers, but there wasn’t any attempt to make a promotional trailer out of the various gameplay clips.
January 2011, First public look at a playable build. Huge progress in just one year
Meanwhile earlier in September of 2010, Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 was released. The release of the game sparked immediate player backlash and negative critical reception. Yoichi Wada back then CEO of SE, said that XIV greatly damaged the brand name of Final Fantasy and he apologized numerous times. The Staff were changed and YoshiP took over as the director of XIV as well as other key positions in the team were handed in other senior members in an attempt to fix the game.
The team could not fully mend the game in its existing form as its engine (Keep in mind this game was also made in Crystal Tools engine) and server structure were already critically flawed. This meant that, in order to save XIV, the entire game needed to be rebuilt from the ground up. The decision to launch a new version as a reboot instead of a whole new title was driven by the need to regain player trust, which was felt would not be done by just scrapping XIV
The rebooted version, initially titled Final Fantasy XIV 2.0, began development in April 2011.
in an interview with Tetsuya Nomura, it was revealed that Final Fantasy Versus XIII hadn't yet entered full production. He went on to say the date for the next showing of the game had been set.
In early August for the 500th issue of Dengeki PlayStation magazine, Nomura stated Final Fantasy Versus XIII had a change in schedule and would not be shown at Tokyo Game Show 2011 in September.
After that the game went into complete silence for more than a year, with Kotaku writing an article in July of 2012 about Versus XIII being canceled and its assets re-purposed to be used on FFXV.
XIV a realm reborn AKA XIV 2.0 was finally released in 2013. Wada in his official business report in November of 2012
"The unsuccessful launch of FFXIV caused a negative chain of events in other areas across the businesses. One notable example is the significant delay in the development of new HD games titles"
Keep in mind that until November of 2012 FFXIV 1.0 was still being updated by the dev team while at the same time the 2.0 version was being developed. To achieve this SE poured all of its resources into rebuilding XIV from the ground up in just 2 years. Meaning, everyone and their mothers was working on XIV including the VsXIII team.
It is at this point that Square Enix decides that since the old gen consoles are at the end of their lifespan and new gen is already here, Versus XIII which is still relatively early into development and was on hold because of XIV, will be moved onto the next gen consoles.
Wada orders the Type-0 team to fuse with Versus XIII team in order to create a prototype build for the next gen consoles. Tabata joins the XV project as a co-director.
Versus XIII is renamed into XV and Kotaku was right all along.
prototype playable build
Nomura gives multiple interviews and reassures the fans that the story and direction of the game is still entirely the same. He also outright states that the game will have a conclusive end but the overall story will continue in the form of "The VERSUS epic".
Upon being challenged whether or not fans would have to wait a further eight years before seeing any of these sequels, Nomura was quick to assert this wouldn't be the case. In fact, his response suggests that future games could even be released episodically to keep waiting times down. "As for as how it will be released, we’ll announce that later on; however, having you wait a long while for a next title isn’t something we would desire…"
Nomura said the game has become “extraordinarily grandiose,” and is thus considering the idea of a Final Fantasy XV compilation similar to that of Final Fantasy VII. And keeping in mind the game’s seven year wait, he doesn’t want to keep fans too long in waiting between releases.
Previously you said, “Because this isn’t a numbered title, this kind of story is possible.” Has it changed direction since that…?
Nomura: Although the game has changed it’s name and platform, the story is still entirely the same.
When I confirmed the shift to Final Fantasy XV, I said that I was concerned since it was different from previous numbered titles. It has action battles, so even though it is going to do what is impossible in a numbered title, would that be alright? Since it was said that it wouldn’t be a problem, the direction hasn’t changed at all.
"there's a line of narration that reads, 'A World of the VERSUS Epic', suggesting that Final Fantasy XV ushers in one climax of a planned, continuous story." Famitsu noted that it sounds like there's the possibility of a sequel, Nomura replied, "If you make something this dense, it becomes an extraordinarily grand thing. There was an idea to drop the sheer volume and the density, but, in that situation, desired elements undoubtedly die, too."
Continuing, Nomura said, "That's why, I'm thinking of completing a successive work."
This all was said at E3 2013 which was in June of 2013.
In the same month Yoichi Wada stepped down as CEO of Square Enix and Yosuke Matsuda
Yosuke Matsuda immediately stated that he plans to review the whole company and reform it from the ground up
It's clear that this is the turning point for SE and for FFXV. This is the exact point where Nomuras trilogy plans get canceled and where the FF7 remake will finally see the light of day.
At some point between June and October it is decided that Nomura will not be the director of FFXV anymore.
This is an assumption one can make by this
Square Enix forms a Final Fantasy committee, its members are all directors that are currently directing a Final Fantasy in development.
Motomu Toriyama - at the time developing Lightning returns
Naoki Yoshida - Final Fantasy XIV: Realm Reborn
Hajime Tabata - Co-director of Final Fantasy XV
Yoshinori Kitase - Final Fantasy 7 Remake?
If by that point Nomura was still the director of FFXV he would definitely be part of this committee but he is not and the official answer of SE for Nomuras absence is that "he is busy". We later learned by Tabata himself that he became the director of XV in December of 2013. The decision must have happened way earlier though otherwise it doesn't make sense.
It is also apparent that something had changed because Nomura in June said that he would show new things in September at TGS 2013 and despite that, SE showed the same exact E3 footage. Nomura was also vague for the first time when asked about a sequel for FFXV, was not as clear as he was some months ago and he said that "it is still not decided" despite him being confident at E3. At the very least it shows that things were changing and talks were happening internally about the fate of the project.
In very early 2014 it was also announced that Yoshinori Kitase stopped working on FFXV to start up his own project and at this point it is pretty much confirmed that they were talking about FF7R.
Yoshinori Kitase has been officially removed from the FFXV project despite his name being originally attached to it as far back as 2008. Kitase notes that he is starting a new, separate project up by himself.
FFXV remained vaporware from TGS 2013 to TGS 2014 where it reappeared completely changed, with story changes, changed gameplay, changed director and a different tone and feel about it.
So yeah, that's the whole story.
Versus XIII was in actual development but not in full production excluding the very early and irrelevant 2007 ps2 prototype - late 2009 ~ mid 2011 (1 and a half year)
FFXV with Nomura as director and the Versus XIII story intact started development from scratch - mid 2012 ~ some time in 2013 (about 1 year)
FFXV as we know it and as it was released - Late 2013 ~ Late 2016 (3 years)
Last edited by Harkins1721 - on 14 March 2018