In a new interview with 4gamer, the team behind Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII open up with some new information about the game and the approach to developing the third and final entry in “Lightning’s Saga”. Present were producer Yoshinori Kitase, director Motomu Toriyama, lead designer Yujii Abe, and art director Isamu Kamikokuryou.
When asked why Lightning Returns wasn’t called “Final Fantasy XIII-3″ as it is the end of a trilogy, the team felt this entry was unique enough to warrant a different name — as calling it XIII-3 might give the impression that it would be a direct evolution of Final Fantasy XIII-2. The game is a “new experience” in layman’s terms, as Yoshinori Kitase put it.
Director Motomu Toriyama explained that the concept of “World Driven” as a theme for Lightning Returns is drastically different than previous FFXIII titles. Explaining Final Fantasy XIII as “Story Driven”, and Final Fantasy XIII-2 as “Player Driven”, the concept of “World Driven” is to put the player in a world that is constantly shifting and changing — one that doesn’t necessarily revolve around the player. This world may feature some drastic “bewildering” changes. The world is running in real-time, changing 24 hours a day. This concept gives the player a sense of time and urgency to experience content that will not always be waiting for them.
The player, however, will be able to manage time in the world through Lightning — as her actions slowly impact the ticking clock that counts down the end of the world. By defeating a monster or performing a miracle, Lightning will either slow down or speed up the passage of time. Yujii Abe commented that the day and night cycle of the game was still being finalized, but mentioned it will be roughly one to two hours.
4gamer asked Toriyama if Lightning Returns will be as lengthy as its predecessors, to which he stated that the nature of the game warrants replaying to experience the “World Driven” game differently. The way that time flows in Lighting Returns, you may not experience everything in one play-through. Yujii Abe wants players to have an experience where they think: “Oh! I didn’t know that event occurred!” when on their next run.
Toriyama explained that the approach to developing Lightning Returns could be described as a game of “Daruma Otoshi.” He will be explaining this method during a presentation at the next Game Developers’ Conference, but briefly summarized that different parts of the game represent different wooden blocks. The bottom-most would be the foundation, the “World Driven” concept Toriyama mentioned before and the rest would be added on top.