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Author Topic: Is Square-Enix out of talent?  (Read 18728 times)
CDFN
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« Reply #30 on: June 10, 2010, 06:30:56 PM »

Yes but this is Final Fantasy we're talking about, not God Hand. Regardless of FF13's design being the way it currently is, or being based on the design of FF 6 through 10, it would still sell millions of copies. Do you think a gamer goes to a store and sees "Hey, the new FF13 game. I heard they removed all the towns and made it more mainstream for guys like me!"? Fuck no. They see "Oh shit its Motherfucking Final Fantasy 13, I am going to buy this game regardless of it being a heaping pile of shit."

I just want a good game. FF12 and FF13 have been the worst SNES-era onwards Final Fantasy games I have ever played.

Did you ever stop to think that maybe not everyone has that opinion? Besides, you mentioned chrono trigger and secret of mana, that's the kind of risk I'm talking about, new IPs in a genre that has seen better days.
They tried with TLR, check out this article: http://www.joystiq.com/2009/05/20/report-the-last-remnant-sold-better-in-the-west-poorly-in-general/

I'm assuming you have an idea of how much it costs to develop an AAA rpg on current gen consoles, you don't break even with half a million copies. Someone green lighted this project and in the end was held responsible for making the company lose millions of dolars.

Mass effect, as brilliant as it is, plays it safe both in terms of concept and gameplay mechanics. So does fallout 3. Obviously both games are brilliantly executed but unfortunately that doesn't guarantee sales and that is a big problem in this industry. The percentage of casual/mainstream gamers is just too damn big and you just can't ignore those potential sales even if it means that you have to drop everything that your fans from the 16 bit era hold dear.
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« Reply #31 on: June 10, 2010, 06:39:52 PM »

I don't see how making a linear game with no towns = no heart. This is the base of your arguement and it holds no water. I wouldn't say FF13 had any more or less heart than say FFV, I game that was a big step down in terms of plot from FFIV and was basically a recycling of gameplay from FFIII.

Could you argue that Michael Bay has no more talent because of Transformers even though it made a killing at the box office?
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« Reply #32 on: June 10, 2010, 06:40:52 PM »


I'm going to just focus on this one individual example in your post since music is my forte.

Let's start by pointing out some obvious stuff. First, FFXIII is scored by Masashi Hamauzu, not Nobuo Uematsu. Both of these men are insanely talented, and enjoyment of their music is most definitely left to "eye (ear) of the beholder" status. Both men would agree that they are at least equals, though they'd probably pull out Japanese humility. I don't even need to say probably: I had dinner with Uematsu two months ago and asked about Hamauzu. He reminded me that Hamauzu worked under him in Square's early days (see Front Mission Gun Hazard and, more recently, FFX). Plus, Uematsu has loads of respect for Hamauzu -- he (U) even called him (H) a brilliant composer. Uematsu doesn't call himself a brilliant composer. Do the math.

Next, whether or not S-E is "running out of talent" on the music front is a moot point. In your example you cite Uematsu and Hamauzu. NEITHER of them work for S-E anymore. Uematsu left when Hamaguchi left, but Uematsu kept working freelance (and is even scoring FFXIV). Hamauzu left right after FFXIII was done but is still happy to work with S-E on projects (see FFXIII Piano coming July). So talent can still be out-sourced on the music front.

Finally, if you want my honest opinion? I like Lightning's Theme more. Tifa's Theme is a nice piece, but I actually have grown weary of the character themes of VII. And while not every one of the character themes from XIII are total winners (Snow's theme hasn't aged well in a mere 6 months, for example), Lightning's Theme is great. And as much as I despise Hope, his theme song is great too. And Sazh's theme song? If you want a character theme that matches the person, there it is.

But that's just music.

REAL QUICK -- outside of music I think it's not likely that S-E would "run out" of talent. Instead, there's a quick turnaround. There are revolving doors. Yes, there are some "veteran" S-E folk: Yoichi Wada, Akitoshi Kawazu, Yoshinori Kitase, Hiromichi Tanaka, and (somewhat more recent) Tetsuya Nomura. But below their levels I suspect the turnaround is very real. I also think S-E will out-source their work more and more over time and be more of a "branding" than a true developer house. But we'll see.
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Sagacious-T
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« Reply #33 on: June 10, 2010, 06:44:17 PM »

(In Response to CDFN)

Mass Effect is innovative as hell. It blends the RPG genre perfectly with action gameplay in the second one. It brings theatrics that have never been seen in gaming before. As for Bioware not taking risks, their $150,000,000 MMORPG funded by Electronic Arts seems to speak differently.

My opinion isn't shared? FF13 is the most poorly recieved Final Fantasy of all PSX and onwards Final Fantasy games. It's simply not as good a game as it's predecessors. Even FF12 was reviewed better.

http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/ps3/finalfantasy13
http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/ps2/finalfantasyxii
http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/ps2/finalfantasyx
http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/psx/finalfantasy9
http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/psx/finalfantasy8
http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/psx/finalfantasy7
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« Reply #34 on: June 10, 2010, 06:51:22 PM »


I'm going to just focus on this one individual example in your post since music is my forte.

Let's start by pointing out some obvious stuff. First, FFXIII is scored by Masashi Hamauzu, not Nobuo Uematsu. Both of these men are insanely talented, and enjoyment of their music is most definitely left to "eye (ear) of the beholder" status. Both men would agree that they are at least equals, though they'd probably pull out Japanese humility. I don't even need to say probably: I had dinner with Uematsu two months ago and asked about Hamauzu. He reminded me that Hamauzu worked under him in Square's early days (see Front Mission Gun Hazard and, more recently, FFX). Plus, Uematsu has loads of respect for Hamauzu -- he (U) even called him (H) a brilliant composer. Uematsu doesn't call himself a brilliant composer. Do the math.

Next, whether or not S-E is "running out of talent" on the music front is a moot point. In your example you cite Uematsu and Hamauzu. NEITHER of them work for S-E anymore. Uematsu left when Hamaguchi left, but Uematsu kept working freelance (and is even scoring FFXIV). Hamauzu left right after FFXIII was done but is still happy to work with S-E on projects (see FFXIII Piano coming July). So talent can still be out-sourced on the music front.

Finally, if you want my honest opinion? I like Lightning's Theme more. Tifa's Theme is a nice piece, but I actually have grown weary of the character themes of VII. And while not every one of the character themes from XIII are total winners (Snow's theme hasn't aged well in a mere 6 months, for example), Lightning's Theme is great. And as much as I despise Hope, his theme song is great too. And Sazh's theme song? If you want a character theme that matches the person, there it is.

But that's just music.

REAL QUICK -- outside of music I think it's not likely that S-E would "run out" of talent. Instead, there's a quick turnaround. There are revolving doors. Yes, there are some "veteran" S-E folk: Yoichi Wada, Akitoshi Kawazu, Yoshinori Kitase, Hiromichi Tanaka, and (somewhat more recent) Tetsuya Nomura. But below their levels I suspect the turnaround is very real. I also think S-E will out-source their work more and more over time and be more of a "branding" than a true developer house. But we'll see.

You know, I love the music in Final Fantasy 13. I also love Lightning's theme. However, after playing through both games, the topic of relevancy comes up for the musical scores. Personally I believe that Tifa's theme is so subtle and appropriate for her personality. I hear that song and I immediately remember how Tifa was in the game, sitting with Cloud and making promises and all that good shit.

While Lightning's theme is a good piece of music, I really feel like it's disconnected from her character. Also the character themes are sparsely used at all in the game in the first place. That was the messy point I was trying to get across. Hey, you may think Lightning's theme fits her perfectly, but I still think that Uematsu captured the characters personalities in music far more accurately.

And as for the Uematsu compliment to Hamauzu and telling me to do the math, that is irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Have you not heard of someone being humble?
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« Reply #35 on: June 10, 2010, 06:54:19 PM »

Gotta go with Ramza on this one, and although I like Uematsu, but I've never held him up as one of my favorites. His work in the FF's was always at least good, and at times outstanding-- but VII has one of my least favorite FF soundtracks. XIII's soundtrack is my favorite FF OST in a long time. I think that, musically, it's very consistent with itself and really gives the game an identity. And whether or not it was as well-received as previous games, I think that game stands to say that Square Enix most certainly still has talent. Famed studios like that will attract talented people, so even if the people currently 'in power' at SE are gone (or become talentless, which I don't think will ever happen), someone else will take their spot and offer something fresh and new.


TL;DR version-- I think Lightning's Theme is better than Tifa's. Now if you asked about VII Cid's Theme, I might feel differently. Hard to say :)

Also, it's not really fair to say Lightning's Theme can't elicit thoughts about her 'character,' because I think it absolutely does. We've also had like, what, 15 years to 'get to know' Tifa, as well as a couple of games and a movie to hear that theme and associate it with her.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2010, 06:55:56 PM by Taelus » Logged

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« Reply #36 on: June 10, 2010, 06:59:11 PM »

Good post Ramza. Even if people don't like the game they could at least show Hamauzu the respect he deserves for the wonderful work he did.

Maybe I didn't make myself clear Thoren, both the setting (space) and gameplay mechanics (shoot and cover which is the very definition of this generation) are tried and tested formulas.
As for the metacritic, I didn't say it wasn't shared, I said that not everyone shares it which is perfectly ilustrated by the 28 90+ reviews linked on that metacritic page.
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« Reply #37 on: June 10, 2010, 07:06:31 PM »

I don't want this to turn into a composer circlejerk thread so lets just say Final Fantasy 13 had amazing elevator music.
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« Reply #38 on: June 10, 2010, 07:07:49 PM »

Good post Ramza. Even if people don't like the game they could at least show Hamauzu the respect he deserves for the wonderful work he did.

Maybe I didn't make myself clear Thoren, both the setting (space) and gameplay mechanics (shoot and cover which is the very definition of this generation) are tried and tested formulas.
As for the metacritic, I didn't say it wasn't shared, I said that not everyone shares it which is perfectly ilustrated by the 28 90+ reviews linked on that metacritic page.

Heres the perfect metacritic user review which summed up the game perfectly:

It's sad to see how far the genre has fallen. To think that over 10 years ago, in FF7, you had romance minigames and a worldmap, and now I have a single corridor to run down and grind through monsters.The entire game is an on-rails collection of fights followed by cutscenes where one character is feeling emo/depressed, and the other (usually younger) gives them a pep talk. Character gets depressed/angry, then broods throughout most of the level, and finally a pep talk at the end of the level.The story, dialogue, and characters are like a bad anime.
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« Reply #39 on: June 10, 2010, 07:10:19 PM »

It's been suggested that a lack of risk-taking is hurting them. I have 3 words... Code Age Commanders. That game was wildly different and pretty much fell on it's face. I enjoyed some of the ideas that the game had, but the gameplay really suffered for lack of an ability to distance yourself in a melee. And it had lopsided difficulty. I'm sure we all know that this game ( and the entire franchise ) was quickly shelved, and never even considered for translation.

It's failures like this that have hurt Squeenix's adventurous spirit.
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« Reply #40 on: June 10, 2010, 07:37:31 PM »


TLR is a poor example.  That game's biggest problem was that it was a technical mess, almost to the point of being unplayable at times.  That has nothing to do with risk-taking in game design.  Actually, I think TLR had some good ideas and I wish they had managed to build a competent game around those ideas.

Ultimately, with AAA game budgets hitting the $50 million mark it really doesn't make financial sense to take risks.  Smaller titles can take risks because it doesn't matter if they fail.

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« Reply #41 on: June 10, 2010, 07:55:50 PM »

And we come back to that same argument of wanting newer, riskier IPs over remakes of tried-and-true games or nostalgic throwbacks.  Again, I posit that the economy has a lot to do with it.  The economy is still in shambles and people have less disposable income.  So would they spend their hard earned meager cash on a risky unproven title that may not be good or they may not like, or bank on nostalgia since it's proven and escapism into a reminder of a simpler time when all was right with the world is a powerful consumer influence right now.  I see a lot of neo-nostalgic gushing over FF9 and thus ire that it's not on the US PSN yet (it was released in Japan and Europe last month) and many of us will buy it.  Heck, we're all gaga over XSeed for bringing over those remakes of old-school Falcom titles.  Granted, Falcom games haven't had much presence in the US up til now so it's kinda "new" to us, but you get the idea.  And thus XSeed will have direct lines to many of our bank accounts.  The video game business is just that, a business.  And it comes down to what people have said before- we can nerd-rage all we want on Internet boards, but ultimately money talks and if enough people open up their wallets.  

Don't get me wrong, I too enjoy RPGs with creative design, ambition, and crazy ideas.  That's why Infinite Space and Resonance of Fate are pretty badass.  But truth be told, the RPG I enjoyed most this year was Hexyz Force, which was VERY traditional but loaded with charm.  Go figure, huh?  

One of my buddies back in ye olden days bought Wild Arms, loved it, traded it up for FF7 (he'd been an FF fan since the NES days), hated FF7, and subsequently traded FF7 back in for Wild Arms.  

But again, I think Squre Enix still produces good games.  But because so many other developers are also producing amazing stuff, seeing "the king" shaky on the throne is a bit cognitively dissonant because we're so used to Square being "the king" and the best game in town.  For many of us, Shin Megami Tensei > Final Fantasy any day.  Of course, to the average gamer who maybe plays a couple of RPGs a year, it's still "Huh?  Shine Magenta Tinsel?"  
« Last Edit: June 10, 2010, 07:57:53 PM by Dincrest » Logged

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« Reply #42 on: June 10, 2010, 08:08:54 PM »

Dincrest, would you like Final fantasy 15 to tread more experimental ground like FF13 and FF12? Or would you rather have it follow the classical structure of FF7 thru FF10 with a world map, towns, etc?
« Last Edit: June 10, 2010, 08:31:31 PM by Thoren » Logged
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« Reply #43 on: June 10, 2010, 08:23:40 PM »

Thoren, would you like to use a question mark for your questions? Sorry, j/k.

In reply to the main topic, no. I enjoyed FFXII tremendously in spite of the fact that it sort of lacked chemistry in the plot department. Have bought XIII but haven't attempted it yet because my DS rpgs have been keeping me busy. I have to admit one thing though: playing Chrono Trigger these days comes across as more entertaining than playing FFXII, even if the latter was good fun.

I'm also in agreement with Dincrest. Other companies are starting to cough up really amazing and new stuff-- the barriers to entry in the market were higher once upon a time and now they've become lower, providing consumers with a larger pool of games to compare SE's work with. This should spur the company to kick it up a notch but I guess they did kicked it in a direction that old-school RPG players don't really like.

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« Reply #44 on: June 10, 2010, 08:42:33 PM »

I found Tifa's theme utter garbage.  Its the same music-box-childhood-sweetheart crap you hear in many femme protagonists' themes.  I like Lightning's theme - especially near the end where it reprises a softer battle theme (where, after the stunning trailer, I'm pretty sure we associated that song with the pink-headed hero).

I do think Squeen has lost its touch.  Producing games is one thing - Jupiter (TWEWY), Cavia (Nier), TriAce (SO,VP...sort of RoF even though the skipped that boat); but in terms of what they have made... well, yikes.

The mid 2000's brought a creepy era of FF titles.  Consisting of mostly spin-offs are scarcely Final Fantasy-ish games (13 having no town and all that, the FF7 spin offs, screwy MANA titles, and pretentious KH titles [sorry to those who like em, btw]).  But yeah; they haven't made a game I've found horribly enjoyable in some time.  I'm sure they will - I'm quite hopeful of what's to come.  I'm pinning a lot on this E3.

I've been replaying FFV (advance) and by GOD that game is HORRIBLY entertaining for such an old title.  I clocked 70 hours (not too bad); but it was always a worth while grind and enemies can still kick my ass.  The graphics are pretty shitty (comparing to today's standards); but I love how little I care about all that.  The story is absolutely paper thin too.  But it was always about the challenge and growth.

Square Enix likes to prioritize their quality of game; but it isn't always necessary, especially if the title is a bore to play.  Graphics can't always "wow" me away from a shitty game mechanic.
Hard to make sense of that, but I hope I'm getting across the general gist.
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