Toriyama: Final Fantasy XIII's Linearity is Beneficial

Tom Goldman

Crying on the inside.
Aug 17, 2009
14,499
0
0
Toriyama: Final Fantasy XIII's Linearity is Beneficial



The director of Final Fantasy XIII [http://www.amazon.com/Final-Fantasy-XIII-Playstation-3/dp/B000FQ2DTA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=videogames&qid=1278964269&sr=1-1] doesn't want you to think his game takes players along a straight, boring line, and instead says any linearity is actually a good thing.

We all know that linearity is the sign of a bad videogame. Any release that doesn't let you create your own completely unique experience every time you play should be thrown directly into the trash and forgotten about forever. Final Fantasy XIII director Motomu Toriyama oddly disagrees with this, recently posting a response on the game's official website [http://www.finalfantasyxiii.com/#/content/Developers/00] to those that say the title is too linear for an RPG.

He writes: "There have been many who expressed opinions regarding the story driven nature of FFXIII making for a linear gameplay progression so I shall briefly talk about that concept here." He goes on to explain that any linearity is intentional due to the two worlds the game takes place in: the futuristic world of Cocoon and the primeval world of Gran Pulse.

"The game system itself actually changes between these two worlds, with the first half of the game taking place in Cocoon being a very story driven experience, whereas the second half in Gran Pulse is an open world design with a more free style of gameplay. In order to allow the player to become absorbed in the drama of the storytelling and the new and exciting world of Cocoon and be drawn to the characters without getting distracted or lost we have deliberately used a linear game design for the introduction sections so they can be enjoyed in the same manner as watching a film."

Toriyama says that his team at Square Enix was going for a FPS "vibe" where the player "rapidly progresses through a series of dramatic events and experiences one after the other on an imposing and atmospheric battlefield." This early linear section also allows the player to get the hang of Final Fantasy XIII's new battle system, according to Toriyama.

I don't import, nor am I special, so I have not played Final Fantasy XIII yet, but what Toriyama describes here sounds exactly like almost every other Final Fantasy game. Western RPGs tend to be built around open worlds, but JRPGs like Final Fantasy usually work just like Toriyama says FFXIII works: a huge portion of linearity, followed by open-world exploration (usually accompanied by the acquisition of an airship). This structure is in fact a staple of JRPG design.

I would never want to see a series like Final Fantasy go into the realm of total linearity, cutting out any exploration or side-RPG elements, though I won't know how well FFXIII incorporates these until it hits shelves on March 9. Depending on how long each world lasts, and how truthful Toriyama's statements are, Final Fantasy XIII's partially linear structure might be nothing new at all.

Author's Note: The first two lines of this article are sarcasm.

Permalink
 

qbanknight

New member
Apr 15, 2009
669
0
0
linear does not equal role playing game japan, thats just an adventure game with rpg elements; precisely why i dont pay much attention to FF anyways
 

Nerf Ninja

New member
Dec 20, 2008
728
0
0
My problem with a linear game is it has no meaning, you either succeed or fail. You don't build up your own experiences in a game when you have no choice on what to do.

Sure even an open world game has a beginning, middle and end same as a linear game but it's the bits in between that matters.

Getting from A to C shouldn't always mean you need to go to B, why not try Z now and then?
 

DarkSaber

New member
Dec 22, 2007
476
0
0
God, have these guys been talking to Sony/Kotick on how to hype games beyond the point anyone cares?
 

Darkwolf9

New member
Aug 19, 2008
394
0
0
I think people should stop whining about a game that they haven't even played yet. Most JRPG's are like this and what does it matter. Story is a good thing. They tried the big open world stuff in FFXII and nobody, for the most part, liked it. We play FF for the story. Yeah it's gonna be somewhat emo and dark. FF has always been a drama series. I fail to see the problem. It's not Fallout or Elder Scrolls: anything. I'm looking forward to the linear RPG style and a good story with an awkward script. That's honestly what makes them so damn good. A lot of people may argue the point, but FF games have always been this way. Sure you may get to wander around the world map early on in the game sometimes, but if you wanna progress in the game there is only one place you can go. Really if you wanna do anything but grind there is only one place to go.
 

Twad

New member
Nov 19, 2009
1,254
0
0
Well, to quote from Queroulous.

They promise the freedom balloon: Open world, full of choice and possibilities, sandbox.

We get the string of sausages : The majority of the stuff they actually give us is like that; linearity, in each sausage you can move around a bit until you pass the next choke point to enter the next sausage.

Linearity or sandbox? Depends on what the games aims for and many other factors. Both have their advantages, both have their flaws.
When its linear its easier to control the flow and make the "event triggers" work properly.. but the player has no freedom. (in a way, like a interactive movie)

And in sandbox you are free to do as you wish.. but you might get lost/confused since you have so many options (maybe we are used to getting controlled at every step we make?) and a lot of the content might not be used/seen by the player in an open world... its harder to make the game flow feel right and beleivable.
 

DarkSaber

New member
Dec 22, 2007
476
0
0
Twad said:
We get the string of sausages : The majority of the stuff they actually give us is like that; linearity, in each sausage you can move around a bit until you pass the next choke point to enter the next sausage.
That is by FAR the best description of any FF game I've EVER heard!
 

Darkwolf9

New member
Aug 19, 2008
394
0
0
Nerf Ninja said:
My problem with a linear game is it has no meaning, you either succeed or fail. You don't build up your own experiences in a game when you have no choice on what to do.

Sure even an open world game has a beginning, middle and end same as a linear game but it's the bits in between that matters.

Getting from A to C shouldn't always mean you need to go to B, why not try Z now and then?
I disagree that it has no meaning. A linear story if told right has plenty of meaning. You can still build up relationships with your characters and learn about pasts and such. With most linear games you may only go from A to B to C, but outside of that there are plenty of chances you can venture of to do side quests. I've not played a linear RPG yet without side quests. It just means they tend to have a more rigid story which works well for people who enjoy story along with a game. For me most western RPG's lack real story. Don't get me wrong there are some good worlds out there, but I feel that the story telling is often lacking and they leave most of it up to you to imagine how it should go. This to me takes out the inventiveness of a good story.
 

Stormz

New member
Jul 4, 2009
1,450
0
0
Really can't wait for this game. I really don't mind the linearity if the story is good. Plus the game still has an open world later on to explore. Getting it on release day.
 

Nerf Ninja

New member
Dec 20, 2008
728
0
0
Darkwolf9 said:
Nerf Ninja said:
My problem with a linear game is it has no meaning, you either succeed or fail. You don't build up your own experiences in a game when you have no choice on what to do.

Sure even an open world game has a beginning, middle and end same as a linear game but it's the bits in between that matters.

Getting from A to C shouldn't always mean you need to go to B, why not try Z now and then?
I disagree that it has no meaning. A linear story if told right has plenty of meaning. You can still build up relationships with your characters and learn about pasts and such. With most linear games you may only go from A to B to C, but outside of that there are plenty of chances you can venture of to do side quests. I've not played a linear RPG yet without side quests. It just means they tend to have a more rigid story which works well for people who enjoy story along with a game. For me most western RPG's lack real story. Don't get me wrong there are some good worlds out there, but I feel that the story telling is often lacking and they leave most of it up to you to imagine how it should go. This to me takes out the inventiveness of a good story.
Yeah that's actually a good point. I guess "No meaning" was a bit extreme.

Actually, you could say a book is an extremely linear experience but I wouldn't change them for the world.

Apart from a choose your own adventure book of course.
 

DarkSaber

New member
Dec 22, 2007
476
0
0
Nerf Ninja said:
Darkwolf9 said:
Nerf Ninja said:
My problem with a linear game is it has no meaning, you either succeed or fail. You don't build up your own experiences in a game when you have no choice on what to do.

Sure even an open world game has a beginning, middle and end same as a linear game but it's the bits in between that matters.

Getting from A to C shouldn't always mean you need to go to B, why not try Z now and then?
I disagree that it has no meaning. A linear story if told right has plenty of meaning. You can still build up relationships with your characters and learn about pasts and such. With most linear games you may only go from A to B to C, but outside of that there are plenty of chances you can venture of to do side quests. I've not played a linear RPG yet without side quests. It just means they tend to have a more rigid story which works well for people who enjoy story along with a game. For me most western RPG's lack real story. Don't get me wrong there are some good worlds out there, but I feel that the story telling is often lacking and they leave most of it up to you to imagine how it should go. This to me takes out the inventiveness of a good story.
Yeah that's actually a good point. I guess "No meaning" was a bit extreme.

Actually, you could say a book is an extremely linear experience but I wouldn't change them for the world.

Apart from a choose your own adventure book of course.
I'd argue that a Choose Your Own Adventure/Fighting Fantasy book fits in EXACTLY with the "String of Sausauges" approach that was described earlier.
 

dreadedcandiru99

New member
Apr 13, 2009
893
0
0
I stopped thinking of Final Fantasy games as RPGs a while back--let's face it, there's about as much role-playing in them as there is in, say, Uncharted. But hey, the Uncharted games were pretty linear and I liked them anyway, so I can't see FF13's linearity being much of an issue.
 

p3t3r

New member
Apr 16, 2009
1,413
0
0
i don't see whats so bad about linearity i mean if you absolutely have to go from point a to point b then i see how it could be bad, but if the story is good i don't really care. and these types of games usually have some side quests you can do away from the main story, which should be enough. jrpgs make you follow their story thats how it is
 

Dahemo

New member
Aug 16, 2008
248
0
0
Tom Goldman said:
We all know that linearity is the sign of a bad videogame. Any release that doesn't let you create your own completely unique experience every time you play should be thrown directly into the trash and forgotten about forever.
I genuinely hope that this is sarcasm, because if it isn't you are provably wrong. Half-Life anyone? Probably the best linear gaming experience ever released. Ignoring genre's where linearity is essentially the norm, such as RTS, Fighters and the like, there is a dearth of great linear games from the earliest days of gaming.

The more I think about it, the more you must be joking, because you can't possibly be consigning Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango, Halo, Bioshock, Perfect Dark, Mario 64, Phantasy Star Online (continued ad infinitum) to the garbage. Linearity can create a rollercoaster ride of explosive set pieces, compelling scripting and an absorbing experience when correctly implemented.

Hopefully I'm preaching to the choir...
 

StriderShinryu

New member
Dec 8, 2009
4,987
0
0
lordlee said:
HOW YOU DO NOT MAKE A JRPG:
Directionless clusterfuck (see: FF6's World of Ruin)
Actually, I think FF6's World Of Ruin is great for a couple of reasons. First, by that point in the game you're already pretty knowledgeable about most of the world and part of the experience is exploring just how it's changed by the cataclysm. Secondly, another part of the experience at that point is finding out just what's happened to all of your lost compatriots... sure you could do this in a guided fashion, but I find the way it's done adds to the fun.

As to the topic at hand, I think he's wrong to compare FFXIII to other genres as even if they are more linear in nature. In most linear games (aka the better ones) you have more latitude to explore the areas you're in at least on a strategic level. From what I've heard about FFXIII, and experienced in latter FF games in general, there is very little strategic exploration at all. You fight certain enemies how they are meant to be fought period. At least in something like Gears Of War you can flank in different ways, run and gun, rushdown, etc. Oh, and to the author of the article, FFXIII as described really isn't like any other FF game. Sorry.
 

Tom Goldman

Crying on the inside.
Aug 17, 2009
14,499
0
0
Dahemo said:
Tom Goldman said:
We all know that linearity is the sign of a bad videogame. Any release that doesn't let you create your own completely unique experience every time you play should be thrown directly into the trash and forgotten about forever.
I genuinely hope that this is sarcasm
Total sarcasm! Portal springs to mind as well.