Posted By GlitterBerri at 2:39 AM on Wednesday June 1, 2011
The following interview with Final Fantasy VII story writer and event planner Kazushige Nojima was taken from the Final Fantasy 20th Anniversary Ultimania. The pictures and captions in this article are my additions and aren’t present in the original interview.
I was always thinking of ways to diminish the gap between player and protagonist.
Mr. Nojima, you transferred from another company to what was then Square and came to work on Final Fantasy, correct?
Nojima: That’s right. When I joined Square and started working on Bahamut Lagoon, I was surprised at how the creation process was quite different from the one at my last company. In particular, the concepts the Square development team developed together were very strong. For example, when scenario meetings started, almost all the team members gathered to contribute their opinions. Seeing the ideas that were put forward there rapidly put into use, I felt that a lot of weight was given to everyone’s views. That’s why when I was put in charge of FFVII’s scenario, I was thinking it would be difficult to bring everyone’s ideas together. *laughing*
• Did you feel any pressure to avoid defeat at the hands of FFVII’s scenario?
Nojima: When development began, it was necessary to create scenarios ahead of time so the other staff could do their work, so at first I felt a strong need to keep writing and not a lot of pressure to avoid being defeated at the hands of the giant project that was Final Fantasy. The only thing is that advertising for the game began early on, meaning that screenshots were being rapidly released while the scenario was still in development. Because of this, I was conscious of another kind of pressure, that is, once a screenshot was released to the public, there was no way to amend the message. *laughing* Anyhow, they said it was alright to fix things up after they were released, but I felt that would have been a little cowardly and didn’t end up changing anything.
Cloud: “Make no mistake! I don’t care about you AVALANCHE. Once I get my reward, I’m off to look for my next job.” Once used as the hideout of AVALANCHE, this map later became a generic pub in Junon.
• What sort of things were on your mind when coming up with FFVII’s scenario?
Nojima: As was the case with the RPGs I’d made previously, I was thinking of the relationship between the player and the protagonist. For example, with Dragon Quest, the main character doesn’t have a set personality and the player is free to “become” the hero. However, in the case of a protagonist like Cloud whose name and past have already been decided, how do you get the player to empathize with the character? This matter is always on my mind, not just in relation to FFVII.
• Cloud’s foggy memories were created as a solution to this problem, weren’t they.
Nojima: That’s correct. I quite like having an amnesiac protagonist. The characters living in the universe that serves as the setting for the story know their world well, but it’s a totally new place to the player. That’s where a gap is born, when the player knows nothing about what is common knowledge to the rest of the world’s inhabitants. Coming up with a device to diminish that gap is something I’m always seriously considering when writing the scenario.
FFVI’s Terra Bradford, another amnesiac Final Fantasy protagonist.
• How does looking back at FFVII’s scenario make you feel today?
Nojima: I was definitely younger back then. Looking at the dialogue, I’m not confident that I managed to convey everything to the player, so I keep wanting to go back and add a lot more text, shamefully enough. *laughing* The whole game is filled with a ton of enthusiasm and had a lot of silly parts too, so I’m left remembering the good times I had making it.
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