Home / Uncategorized / Life memories working on Final Fantasy IX available on PlayStation Now – PlayStation.Blog

Life memories working on Final Fantasy IX available on PlayStation Now – PlayStation.Blog

Hi everyone, my name is Kazuhiko Aoki and I was the event designer for Final Fantasy IX. I was responsible for bringing the game’s characters to life, as well as the different scenarios that players would experience.

In honor of the launch of Final Fantasy IX on PlayStation Now, I thought I’d share some of my personal memories of developing the game.


Life memories working on Final Fantasy IX available with PlayStation Now

Begin

I was assigned to the Final Fantasy IX team from the start. I had previously worked on Final Fantasy III, IV and VII, so working on the series was no stranger to me, but this time one thing was supposed to be different: the game was supposed to be made in Hawaii.

That was a big step for me – for example, I wondered what the development environment would look like there.

However, I didn’t start working on Final Fantasy IX right away. Just before development was due to begin, Hironobu Sakaguchi, the game’s director (and the original creator of the Final Fantasy series!) Asked me, “How about you do Chocobo’s Dungeon 2?”

As a result, I took the development team to Hawaii for this game and we did Chocobo’s Dungeon 2 there too. Maybe some of you played it on the original PlayStation!

When that game was finished, I joined the Final Fantasy IX team and we started working on the game together.

Look back as you go forward

From the start, Sakaguchi-san said he wanted Final Fantasy IX to be a return to our roots. Final Fantasy VII and VIII were set in science fiction-inspired worlds, and we wanted to revert to the fantasy style that was established in the earlier Final Fantasy games.

However, this has created some problems for us. For example, we had a lot of experience depicting larger characters in the previous two games, but to best support the fantasy atmosphere of Final Fantasy IX, we needed more stylized designs.

This meant that we couldn’t rely on the techniques we had learned – we basically had to start over!

Characters who determine their own destiny

Getting the designs right was important because the characters are really the heart of Final Fantasy IX. People who have played the game are very attached to Zidane, Vivi, Dagger, and Steiner.

It’s good to hear because I’ve done my best to create them all. One of the themes of Final Fantasy IX is that there is no such thing as immortality in the world. How you live your life is not determined by fate – it is determined the moment you make your own decision about how you will live.

We wanted to portray characters who, even in their last moments, always lived as they decided for themselves. By each of them having their own unique charm, we thought people would immerse themselves in the world of the game.

Of course, I thought about all of this at the beginning of the project, but when development started all I can remember is taking care of a lot of different things – like making a certain part clearer or adding extra episodes.

However, I believe we successfully achieved our original goal – I think people were able to relate to the characters and how they lived their lives.

Deadlines and data limits

Perhaps the biggest problems we encountered in the development of Final Fantasy IX were data limitations. When working on the original PlayStation, we were limited by how much information we could fit on a CD-ROM, and even with four floppy disks we were right at the limit of that space.

Towards the end of development, we calculated the data on each of the plates every day. If we went over the storage amount, we would worry about how to change the way the story is divided among the disks.

That meant we had to make some cuts. For example, at one point in the story the group splits up to occupy four shrines. We originally planned for the player to use any group of characters to fight, but due to data limitations, we ended up only including the fight between Zidane and Quina.

To make matters worse, we had three months less than originally planned to make the master of the game. The final polishing was incredibly tough!

A satisfying scene

Despite all the difficulties, I am proud of the finished game. Sometimes I’m asked what my favorite scene is and, strange as it sounds, it’s the credits.

My definition of a fun game is that the closer you get to the end, the more you feel like you don’t want to end it – you still want to play in this world! Then, as soon as the ending begins, you are all excited by the finale of the story, and as soon as the credits roll, you are just dazed and overflowing with feelings of achievement.

As I played through Final Fantasy IX to test it out, I experienced that feeling myself as I reached the end – I felt like I had achieved what I had to do.

Memories of life

I have fond memories of my time with Final Fantasy IX, especially working under the brilliant Hawaiian sun.

When I started living there, I saw people looking out over the sea and sky with relaxed expressions and it felt like time itself was passing at a more relaxed pace. I used to be so busy rushing around – it was a good opportunity for me to stop thinking about what kind of life would make me happy.

On top of that, I’m delighted that the game has had such a huge impact on the lives of its fans. Right after the game was released, I received a letter from a gamer who was going through an extremely difficult time in his life, but playing Final Fantasy IX helped him with that. Knowing that all of our hard work helped someone overcome such a challenge … that was the first time I felt like I was happy making games.

The fans still inspire me today. For example, I still watch Let’s Play videos on YouTube from time to time. People’s reactions to games still teach me things that I use in my current development work (my account name is Kazuhiko Aoi by the way … but I never say anything).

Final thoughts

Our work on Final Fantasy IX development ended a long time ago, but I believe that its continued popularity is thanks only to its fans. In fact, I now consider them the “Creators”.

Anyone who replies to Final Fantasy IX when asked to recommend a game, anyone who enjoys telling people they liked certain parts of the game … these fans, like us, keep developing the game.

If this is your first time playing Final Fantasy IX on PlayStation Now and it’s fun, then I would love for you to join us and continue developing Final Fantasy IX in the future.

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