One of the top requests from fans was “more challenging content”
Right from the get-go, there was a wide variety of reactions to Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. The copious “chaos!” exclamations in the reveal were definitely a driving factor in that divide, but as I dug into the game at launch, I found a lot to like, including some of the bolder and somewhat out-there choices with the narrative.
We sat down recently with director Daisuke Inoue and producer Jin Fujiwara to really take in the game’s impact thus far, and where it might be going now that the DLC campaign is underway.
[There are story spoilers for the Stranger of Paradise core game present throughout the interview.]
Destructoid: What is the number one piece of feedback you’ve gotten from fans as something to address in the main game, possibly in a future patch or DLC?
Inoue: We are so grateful to have received tons of feedback from the community. We do want to address the feedback as much as we can as possible. In particular, the top three requests we’ve received from fans were for “Final Fantasy elements,” “contents worthy of a challenge,” and “character customization aspects.” Regarding the Final Fantasy elements and challenge-worthy contents, we’ve noticed this feedback via social media from when we were developing the main story. As a result, we decided on introducing the Warrior of Light, Bahamut, and Gilgamesh to incorporate them into the additional mission as quickly as possible. When reviewing the players’ comments based on the release of the first expansion, I get the impression that everyone seems to have a positive response towards additional content like these, which makes me glad that I worked on this.
Regarding character customization elements, we’ve seen comments to this day that the character builds are too skewed, in that certain jobs are utilized far more heavily than others, so I am discussing with the dev team for us to work on this going forward. Also, Team Ninja informed us that they’ve been checking the responses to the additional mission. They’ve suggested adding more Final Fantasy elements and RPG-type gameplay and expanding on the action-type gameplay. I’d also like to address the feedback we’ve received as much as possible, so I hope you look forward to it.
How did you come up with the idea for a season pass delivery system rather than, say, one big expansion?
Inoue: We came up with this system to provide new content in the shortest span possible, see the players’ reactions, and continue developing the game with an impact to future content. There is a merit in being able to create in a way in which contents with positive feedback can be further developed, and those with negative ones can be revised. Another reason we selected the season pass delivery system was because of a concern that Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin would leave the players’ minds if there was a long period between the content release schedule.
What type of tone were you going for primarily, with the story? How it teeters between very serious/dramatic and over-the-top, notably seen in most of Jack’s dialogue. Do you feel like that careful balance landed with fans?
Inoue: As for the tone we were going for, the beginning of the game is essentially old-school Final Fantasy with some “ah, that’s how it goes, I get it” kind of parts, which we then do a 180 and bring to somewhere clearly different, and in the latter half and onwards, we’ve tried to push the action game type tempo in the gameplay by later deploying all of the foreshadowing that makes you ask, “Why? How come?” … This may be the reason why the game feels like a mixture of both dramatic and exaggerated exchanges. As a result, I’ve received many negative reactions to the story saying the characters’ statements seeming overly dramatic or the plot development feeling much too abrupt.
However, those who played the game into the latter half and picked up the stories through the memoirs told us that they have come to like the man Jack, the character Garland, or that it made them want to play the original Final Fantasy again. I feel there were quite a few players who responded positively to the game.
With the Dragon King DLC and beyond, how far are you going to go into the Final Fantasy 1 mythos? Will we see a conclusion/wrap-up of Jack and his gang by the end?
Inoue: To tell you the truth, the entire additional mission has a similar structure to that of the main game’s storyline. Therefore, players will likely have an “ah, that part of Final Fantasy 1, huh” feeling of acceptance while playing through the first additional mission. From the second expansion onwards, we imagine a Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin-like story to gradually unfold.
When asked if we will be able to see a conclusion, that’s a hard question to answer, but as the third expansion is entitled “Different Future’”, we are ready to tell the story of Jack’s future and believe it will be an SOPFFO-like story.
Given the success of Final Fantasy VII Remake “rewriting” some established storylines, where do you feel that Final Fantasy Origin sticks out in terms of its place in the overall franchise? Do you see yourself doing more “Origin” stories for other past games?
Fujiwara: Within the Final Fantasy series, one of the most characteristic elements of Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin is the plotline that delves into the characterization of villains. Although this work is an alternate story based on the world of the first Final Fantasy game, I believe the character development for the iconic Final Fantasy villain Garland, has been made much more in-depth.
At the current stage, we are putting all our efforts into developing additional content for Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin, so we have not yet reached a stage where we can contemplate the possibility of a sequel. However, during breaks, we chat about wanting to delve deeper into the villains from other Final Fantasy titles (especially from earlier ones).
What went into the decision to add the Evoker, Pilgrim, and Summoner jobs for the first DLC? Are they significant in some way, or did someone really want them in?
Inoue: We decided to include Bahamut in the first additional mission, so we wanted to make a job associated with Bahamut. Therefore, we decided to prepare a Summoner first as a job that can fight along with Bahamut. We decided to prepare the Evoker as a lower-level job to Summoner. Summoner and Evoker jobs were the first ideas that came to mind, and staves came to mind as the most appropriate weapon for these jobs.
Thereafter, Pilgrim was born as a basic job that uses staves. We also aimed to create an experience that would accentuate the fun of this additional mission. As a result, when you control Bahamut as a Summoner, you are able to perform actions with a different sense of speed as if you are playing a different game, and as an Evoker, we are able to provide a different way of fighting which lets one consider, “How can I best use the supportive spirits in battle?” Another reason we chose these jobs is partly because we wanted to incorporate even more Final Fantasy elements.
As mentioned above, there were many positive responses to the first additional mission, and in response to those comments, Team Ninja proposed to add jobs as an unplanned Final Fantasy element. If fans would like to see more Final Fantasy elements, we would appreciate it if you could voice your comments on social media.