Nojima Interview

Posted By 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.

主人公とプレイヤーとのギャップを埋める方法はつねに考えている

野島さんは、別の会社からスクウェア(当時)に移ってきて『FF』を手がけるようになったんですよね。

野島 ええ。入社して最初に関わった『バハムート ラグーン』では、前の会社と制作過程がかなりちがっていて驚きました。とくに、スクウェアでは開発チームみんなで作っている印象が強くて、たとえばシナリオの打ち合わせが開かれると、チームのほぼ全員が集まって意見を出し合うんです。そこで出たアイデアがどんどん採用されていくのを見て、ひとりひとりの意見の重みが大きいと感じましたね。だから、『FFVII』のシナリオを担当することこになったときには、「みんなのアイデアを最後にまとめるのが大変だろうなあ」と思いました(笑)。

『FFVII』のシナリオをまかされることにプレッシャーはなかったですか?

野島 開発がはじまったころは、ほかのスタッフが作業できるようにシナリオを先に作る必要があったので、とりあえず書き進めようという気持ちが強くて、超大作である『FF』をまかされたことへのプレッシャーはあまり感じなかったですね。ただ、早い時期から宣伝がはじまった関係で、シナリオが完成していないうちに画面写真がどんどん紹介されていったんです。そうすると、「一度映像が公開されたら、メッセージを修正できないな」という、別の意味でのプレッシャーを意識するようになって(笑)。まあ、公開後でも直していいとは言われていたんですけど、なんだかいさぎよくないと思って、結局修正はしませんでした。

  『FFVII』のシナリオは、どんなことを念頭に置いて作っていったのでしょうか。

野島 それ以前に作ったRPGでもそうなんですけど、主人公とプレイヤーとの関係性は考えていましたね。たとえば『ドラゴンクエスト』だと、主人公の個性が設定されていないので、プレイヤーはそのまま主人公になりきることができる。でも、クラウドのように名前も過去も決まっている主人公の場合は、遊ぶ人にどうやって感性移入させたらいいのですか。これは、『FFVII』にかぎらず、自分のテーマとしてずっと考えました。

  その解決策として、クラウドの過去の記憶があいまいだという設定が生まれたわけですね。

野島 そうです。主人公の記憶がないというのは、結構好きなシチュエーションですね。物語の舞台となる世界に住んでいるキャラクターは、その世界のことをよく知っているけれど、プレイヤーにとってはまったく知らない世界じゃないですか。そうすると、住んでいるキャラクターには当たり前のことでも、プレイヤーには理解できないというギャップが生まれてしまう。それを埋めるために何らかの工夫をほどこすというのは、シナリオを書くうえでつねに重視している部分です。

  いま『FFVII』のシナリオを振り返ってみて、どんなふうに感じますか?

野島 あのころはとにかく若かったなあ、と。セリフを見ても、プレイヤーに伝わるかどうか自身がないから言葉をたくさんつけ足している印象が漂ってきて、すごく気恥ずかしい(笑)。全体としては、「やってやる!」という熱意がこもっているのに、ちょっとふざけた感じの要素もたくさん入っていて、楽しんで作っていたんだなあという印象がありますね。

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