Square Enix and Final Fantasy XVI developer Creative Business Unit III have been open about the game spanning decades of protagonist Clive Rosfield’s life for years. It’s an interesting aspect of this story because it speaks to how broad its horizons might be. What starts as a revenge story will grow into one of war, its effects on people, and ultimately, Valisthea’s place in a fight between Eikons, Dominants, and more over crystals.
It also means we’ll be seeing a lot of Clive’s life. During my cover story trip, I played a few of FFXVI’s opening hours, much of which took place in the past, when Clive is just 15 and his younger brother Joshua even younger. I learned a lot about their relationship with each other as well as with their parents, and more I won’t spoil here. But I also flashed forward to a 28-year-old Clive to catch up with him years after a deeply traumatic childhood event, and CBUIII and Square Enix say we’ll go even further into Clive’s life, into his 30s.
I asked FFXVI creative director Kazutoyo Maehiro about the decision to have the game span decades of the protagonist’s life and the challenges that come with it. To my surprise, he said there weren’t many.
“Overall, I don’t think there were too many challenges when writing Clive’s story,” Maehiro says. “I knew where I wanted to take it and was able to create the story fairly quickly, focusing on that revenge but then also showing the rest of this life.”
Maehiro said the true challenge was writing about things that take a long time in real-life, like wars, which are central to FFXVI’s story.
“The story ended up being something that would take place over a long period of time,” he says. “In a novel, that’d be very easy to do because you just write about it and then you go to the next chapter and 10 years have passed. But when you’re doing that in a game, and you want people to play these things, that requires creating assets and creating things for the end game, and that takes development costs and time as well.
“And so probably the biggest challenge was taking this story that spent so many years and transforming it and translating it into something that players could play in real-time, but also get the sense that time has passed at low dev costs.”
He says that creating one model – say, Clive’s younger model – could take anywhere from one to two years. And FFXVI has at least three Clive models. Add in all the other characters that age over time , and those hours start to add up.
I didn’t get to see any of Clive in his 30s, but I’m excited to see how he differs both as a narrative character and a controllable one compared to the younger versions of himself. Fortunately, we have just under a month to go because FFXVI hits PlayStation 5 on June 22.
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