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Final Fantasy XV Changes and the Ugly Side of Perfection

Just how big of a mess was the game formerly known as Versus XIII?

In case you haven't seen or heard, Final Fantasy XV Director Hajime Tabata announced a few alterations to the game's narrative in the latest episode of Square Enix's Active Time Report.  Chief among them perhaps is that the character, Stella, a very prominent figure in the early trailers when the game was still known as Versus XIII, will no longer be in the game. The game has already caught a lot of flack from internet goers everywhere for having an all male cast, and Stella's omission will only add fuel to that fire.

However, focusing solely on that would mean completely missing the point, especially if you haven't been monitoring the game's prolonged and clearly troubled development.  This year's E3 will mark nine years since the game was unveiled at Sony's Press Conference in 2006 alongside the other games of the old Fabula Nova Crystallis series, Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Type-0 (known as Agito at the time).

It's a minor miracle that we even got our hands on a playable segment of the game this year in Episode Duscae.

Between its frequent MIA's from various E3's and Tokyo Game Show's over the years and the numerous rumors of cancellations, it's a minor miracle that we even got our hands on a playable segment of the game this year in Episode Duscae.  This isn't even counting the fact that Legendary Final Fantasy director, Tetsuya Nomura left the project to allegedly focus on Kingdom Hearts III.  With news of these new changes, plus the ones that have come to light since the game officially became Final Fantasy XV two years ago, it begs the question, just how bad was the situation?

Well for one thing, nine years is a long time to make anything, never mind a video game.  That's a lot of company time and money with zero payoff right there.  As convenient as it might be to adopt the idea of "they should take as much time as they can to make sure everything is perfect", that simply isn't anything more than a naive ideal.  Employee salaries, health benefits, utility bills, software licensing, etc all factor into the equation and not being able to meet those demands is the reason that a lot of people lose their jobs.

Tetsuya Nomura is infamous for his ability to go above and beyond in terms of quality and has done so for many years  

Secondly, the idea of achieving perfection, is little more than that.  An idea. Unfortunately, creative perfectionists often have a hard time coming to terms with that and as a result, spend a lot of time creating and iterating their ideas.  While this can and has produced great results, it can take time.  A lot of time.  Tetsuya Nomura is infamous for his ability to go above and beyond in terms of quality and has done so for many years and Versus XIII looked like it was on its way to fulfilling the Final Fantasy legacy.  

Unfortunately, it seems that there was not an effective system in place to keep development moving as Square Enix placed all their faith in their legendary designer.  While it sounds nice to do something like that, and in all fairness, his brilliance and years of service did earn him the right to have that chance, but if there isn't a system that keeps the perfectionists in line, the foundations of entire studios can be rocked (see Ken Levine and Irrational Games).  Square Enix finally decided enough was enough and now Tabata is on to help clean up and streamline the ideas that Nomura laid down.  

Published Jun. 5th 2015

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