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A Chat With the Final Fantasy XIII Team 56

1up's Shane Bettenhausen had the chance to sit down for a chat with the team behind FFXIII. They discuss the multiple versions of the games planned, the character of the title's heroine, the futuristic setting, and just a little bit about the game's battle system. From the article: "At first sight, it might seem like an action game, but FFXIII inherits the long tradition of the numbered FF games, which is the active-time battle command system. We are trying to use a similar system to what you've seen, but the major difference is that the battle will be speeded up considerably. In the past, you had to wait to input commands, but our goal here is to reduce that waiting time as much as possible, so that the battles are greatly speeded up."
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A Chat With the Final Fantasy XIII Team

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  • FFX-2 had battles that were so "speeded up" that they felt like... just a mess. I haven't gone past the first mission.

    Are folks really so impatient that waiting a few seconds to input a command is just intolerable? I fire up FFIV-FFVI from time to time and just tool around in the battle system--I _enjoyed_ the old turn based system. Hell, the FFX system wasn't so bad, either. I guess they're trying to cut out either the "random battle" syndrome or just make them as "painless" as possible.

    (Don't pin me
    • FFX almost perfected the active-time battle system in my opinion. It kept the order of initiative preserved, kept you from getting pounded on if you needed to dig into the menus (which I hate), and allowed you to pound away as fast as you could select actions. FFX was just smooth.

      The only was ATB could be made better is to eliminate any need to dig into menus without getting rid of the pretty. I wish FF XIII luck, but I'm not sure I like where the series is going with FF XII in terms of control schema.
      • FFX didn't use Active Time Battle, it used a turn based system...

        Yes, FFX's system was better than ATB is, because you don't have any pointless pauses while waiting for bars to fill, turns just occur in order and the action only stops to allow the player to select a new command. However this new system isn't the turn based system FFX used. The interview doesn't give enough information to say more than that, though.

        • Yes, FFX's system was better than ATB is, because you don't have any pointless pauses while waiting for bars to fill,

          Nit: you did have pointless pauses between turns. In specially constructed situations, you can end up waiting longer than you would in an ATB game at even slow speed. It's just that the pause is very short during normal gameplay, so short that you didn't even notice. :) And I like CTB more than ATB myself too.
        • FFX didn't use Active Time Battle, it used a turn based system...

          It sort of used both. It used the same basic algorithm as the Active Time Battle, it's just that instead of rolling the clock along once your turn arrives, it stops and lets you select your action, and allows you to see the order of actions assuming all future turns are a basic attack.

          With this system, you can actually see whether, for instance, your "delay attack" attack is worth firing, because when you point it at a monster you can see its
          • That's still turn based - turn based doesn't mean "everyone picks an action and they all resolve," it means "based on turns" and in FFX's case, each "turn" only one participant got to take an action.

            It's essentially Final Fantasy Tactic's "charge" system (in fact, I think FFX called their system "Charge Time Battle" or something weird like that) - each participant in the battle takes a turn, and then has to recharge a "charge" count based on their speed. The character with the lowest "charge" count goes

            • That's a great post, but while it's quite clear to me you think you were disagreeing with me somehow, I can't actually find the point of disagreement.

              Perhaps you don't understand the "sort of" in "sort of used both"? Obviously it's a turn based system, duh. But it has a lot in common with the active time system, too, and tactically it's better understood as a frozen ATB system with no action delays than the older, simpler round-based systems; manipulating your opponents turn has no equivalent in those round
        • FFX's battle system was functionally identical to standard ATB with the option (available in all ATB-using FF games) to have the clock pause when your turn came up.

          This is the mode in which I always play FF games because I hate being pressured by the clock. I play RPGs tactically and not as an exercise in speed and reflexes, so to me FFX was the perfection of how I play the ATB system.
      • FFX almost perfected the active-time battle system in my opinion.

        Well, I know it's been said already, but I figure I'll add my 2 cents in. I really, really disliked FFX's battle system. I can't argue with much of what you said. It was well written for what it was, and it did seem to run pretty smooth, but I don't think it's like the ATB at all. At least not if you play a Final Fantasy game with ATB set to... was it called active? Well, the setting that isn't 'Wait'.

        I liked having to input my commands q
    • None of the battle systems bothered me except Final Fantasy. Holy crap was that slow! How my brother got through playing that game on the nintendo at the age of 14, I'll never know. I beat it on an emulator but that's only because I played that battles at 4x speed.

      It was like this:

      First player-character attack animation.
      Wait 3 seconds...
      DLDO does 3 dmg to IMP
      Wait 3 seconds...
      Second player-character attack animation.
      Wait 3 seconds...
      WHOR does 8 dmg to IMP
      Wait 2 seconds...
      IMP perishes.
      Wait 2 seconds.
  • "...but FFXIII inherits the long tradition of the numbered FF games, which is the active-time battle command system..."

    I think that's the first time I've heard FF's 1980's-style turn-based interface described as "active".

    • Really? Because they were called that in the games themselves.

      FF6, for example, wasn't properly turn-based: each character had a timer on when their next action could be done. if you sat and did nothing, the mobs would still attack, while each of your characters was ready.

      See and note that this was even used in ChronoTrigger, another SNES title.

      This has been in most of the numbered FF's since FF4. Even FFXI is basically the same thing, though you don't need
    • The original Final Fantasy had strict turn-based battles. Later games used "Active Time Battles" [] which gave each character the ability to act when their time-based gauge filled up. The "turns" were based per character and not based on your entire party.
    • I find it so funny reading this comment right after reading a comment about someone wondering why todays players are so impatient as to suck all the fun out of the games by making them faster and faster pace, even when there is no need to or rather the system its based on actually makes you not want to because it loses the whole meaning of the game.

      For example, fast pace battles in a game intended to be based on the slow pen and paper turn based system, the whole point of Final Fantasy (a D&D clone)

  • It's good to hear that FFXIII is going back to the roots with their battle system and not going along the same route as XII. Granted, we haven't received the game yet but the demo of XII really turned me off.
    XIII is starting to sound like a game I'll enjoy. Of course, I still don't like the idea of announcing three of them at once. If I have to buy and play all three to get the complete story then I won't be a happy camper.
  • Does he really mean, "All the mainline FF games?" Or did he leave off the word "odd?"

    (Honestly curious; I've just played FFVII, which was ATB, and FFX, which was not, as I understand the term. So odd-numbered would fit my two data points.)

    Carnage Blender []: Meet interesting people. Kill them.
    • 1-3 and 10 were turn based, the rest uses that combination of the worst aspects of realtime and turnbased called "Active Time Battle".
      • Are you guys sure? FF10 had a display on the right hand side that shows who was attacking and in what order, so even though the actual time wasn't shown, it was surely implied.
        • All TBS games with per-unit turn orders (as opposed to per-side) use that. The difference to ATB is that with ATB the game doesn't pause during the turns and if you're too slow while giving out orders the enemy might act before you do. Sure, in effect it's the same as ATB if you had superhuman reflexes that allow you to choose the action within a few frames (the stop ATB option does not stop the ATB bars in he first menu you see) and there was no delay between order and execution (when an attack animation i
  • We already had something like a high-speed Final Fantasy. Who here remembers Seiken Densetsu 3? Who here remembers just how well that actually worked, how it took place in real time, how you could quickly switch between characters to control them so you could micromanage battles, or how you could program the AI of your other characters to make them behave a certain way in battle to automate the process, and how easy it was to access items and magic in battle? It was pleasantly un-nightmarish while being fas
    • The American release was called Secret of Mana. I played a translated version of Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 2 I believe?) on an emulator and it was fantastic as well.

      One of the coolest features of this game is that it was multiplayer. Someone could pick up the second controller and take control of one of the toons.
    • You must have missed Seiken Densetsu 4 at E3.
    • by NATIK ( 836405 )
      I dont trust AI, I want to micromanage everything in a game, I practically only play turn based games, so I have time to do everything I want to and not have something disrupt me. This is one of the reasons I have always loved Final Fantasy, I want to be able to leave the game to itself in the middle of a combat situation and come back to the exact same screen.

      I am saddened by all these gamers and developers shouting "REALTIME FTW" all the time as there are some people like me who detest realtime gaming.
    • Actually, if you want to go for the best high-speed battle system that Square's put out, I'd have to vote for Kingdom Hearts II. I'm not generally a fan of real-time RPG combat systems, but KH2 is a pure joy to play and get a lot of incredibly flashy mileage out of 4 buttons. It's extremely pretty and fun.

      (I do love Seiken Densetsu 2 & 3, by the way, but KH2 is just so over the top.)
  • I think it's time to put the Final Fantasy series to rest. This one is going to be more of the same with fancier graphics. But it's still got the same tired gameplay, the same kind of over-used storyline and the same types of whiny, troubled characters.

    The Final Fantasy games were good, but not after having been redone for the hundredth time.

    They should just do one spectacular finale and leave it at that. Call it The True Final Fantasy.
    • More of the same? What's always been great about the Final Fantasy series was that it never stopped evolving. Turn based turned to ATB turned to Gambit. Buying spells at shops turned to jobs turned to espers turned to materia turned to draw/junction turned to spheres. Settings are wildly different.

      Honestly, if you take away chocobos, moogles, and Cid and change the names of the games, you couldn't even tell they were a series. They'd just be extremely-good JRPGs.

    • You do realize they sell these things is droves everytime they release it right? They're not going to stop making them because they, as proud artists, feel it's time to put the idea to rest. So long as it generates profit (and with Final Fantasy we're talking a LOT of profit), they'll continue to make them. I'd be willing to bet that they'll start to remake some of the older ones too. Why? Because people will buy them.
    • Ya, I can see it now...

      `Sir, market analysis shows that the Final Fantasy series continues to be a major hit, with demand still high. Although releasing one would help make us all richer, I feel we should stop making them cuz... uh... 12+ is enough!`
    • The games are vastly different anyway. Going from FF7 to FF10 and unless you know the names of the games, you'd never know that they were by the same company.
  • Screw FFXII(I'm a turn-based fan myself. Long live FFX.). I want to know what this FFVersusXII thing is. There is a total void of information on it. The only thing that is stated is that Tetsuya Nomura (Kingdom Hearts and Advent Children) is leading the project. Just hearing that makes me salivate. Supposedly it will run parallel to the FFXII world and the "versus" in the title means something about changing directions. All very cryptic; all very exciting.

    I didn't know it was possible to get excited about t
  • I'm glad they're going with ATB. The gambit thing is just retarded. Imagine battles soooo lame that even the designer doesn't want you to have to play them. That's my take of gambits. It's like having a platform game with jumps that the game designer hates and thinks are waay too boring. So the cheap and easy solution is to give the player the ability to program the computer to *jump for them*.

    No, it's retarded. People pick RPGs for the strategic combat and the story -- or at least that's why I do.

  • Yoshinori Kitase: Initially, we were thinking about making FFXIII on PS2 and FFVersusXIII on a next-gen platform.

    Do you think they meant the 360 by the "next gen platform"? It's not like them to be coy, why didn't they just say PS3? In fact in the next sentence they say

    But we altered that plan and decided to make both titles on PlayStation 3.

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