FFXVI: The mainline FF hidden from the public for 6 years and counting.

Members see less ads - sign up now for free and join the community!

  • This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

1Truth2Lies

Sphere Hunter
Jul 3, 2014
224
129
London
#1
Considering that people feel my threads always revolve around Ito, I will go ahead and post all my speculation on the development history of FFXVI. After all, I feel people expect me to make threads about the subject and some may even enjoy reading them, so there's no real point in me holding off.

With regards to the development history of FFXVI, I've come to this conclusion by in-depth research via reading countless interviews with various Square Enix developers and executives since early 2009, and also comparing the credits of all Square Enix games released since FFXII IZJS in 2007. There's also hidden stuff I’ve uncovered via asking Square Enix staff questions on Twitter and when I got to meet a few of them in person at FF events in London. I’d then corroborate all the answers to see if there’s a logical conclusion they point towards. The following are my findings.

Also, if you haven't seen it already, please read my thread with points that indicate Hiroyuki Ito is secretly working on FFXVI, which I made back in July. The thread has a lot of quotes with sources for reference.

PLEASE NOTE: The following is all purely speculation based on highly reliable evidence. None of this is proven fact.

With that said, let's begin. :)

What team is making FFXVI?

FFXVI is being made by a different team to the teams that made the FFXIII trilogy (Yoshinori Kitase and Motomu Toriyama), FFXIV ARR (Naoki Yoshida), and FFXV (Hajime Tabata). The team making FFXVI is most definitely being led by Hiroyuki Ito and likely has a current headcount of around 200-300 people. The headcount is the combined total of the FFXII team, Tactics Ogre PSP team, and The Last Remnant team. Akitoshi Kawazu is likely the Executive Producer, as he served this role on both FFXII and The Last Remnant.

What is the development history of FFXVI?

Evidence I've amassed points to game beginning planning in January 2008, around half a year after FFXII IZJS released in August 2007. Ito led the planning and the team was exclusively composed of people that worked on FFXII, who were concurrently working on Tactics Ogre PSP. Key staff members aside from Hiroyuki Ito included Hiroshi Minagawa, Takashi Katano, Jiro Mifune, Yuichi Murasawa, Kazuhiro Kataoka, among others.

In January 2009, after a year of planning on FFXVI (still known as FFXV at the time), The Last Remnant team were merged with the FFXII/Tactics Ogre PSP team in order to help develop the game. For reference, The Last Remnant was released on Xbox 360 in November 2008. The inclusion of The Last Remnant team sped up the pre-production, as they were already familiar with developing for HD platforms. Also, it should be noted that early development of FFXVI was being done in Unreal Engine 3, as The Last Remnant team were more experienced with that middleware and found it to be far more flexible than Crystal Tools. In March 2009, Hiroshi Minagawa, who was likely serving as Visual Design Director (the same role he served on FFXII), gave a presentation at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) where he spoke about the development of FFXII and the approach his team were taking with their next game. His presentation ended with one of the accompanying R&D staff showing a video of Rabanastre from FFXII rendered in Unreal Engine 3 and using the crowd simulation of Assassin's Creed.

In March 2010, a year after Minagawa's MIT presentation, a vertical slice of FFXVI was running in Unreal Engine 3 on PS3/Xbox 360 hardware. However, the development team found it difficult to get the gameplay and battle system Ito wanted running at a suitable frame rate. This was due to the insufficient RAM and CPU power in current-gen consoles to support Ito's ideas. As a result, Ito had to make concessions and began to streamline or outright cut many of his ideas. While he was going through this process and early development of FFXVI continued, Minagawa was interviewed by Eurogamer in October 2010 about Tactics Ogre PSP, which the FFXVI team (then the FFXV team) had been making concurrently and was now ready for release. When Minagawa was asked if FFXV would be his next project, he laughed and replied, "I'm not saying anything." This was obviously him not wanting to break NDA. However, a catastrophic event occurred a month earlier that was about to greatly impact FFXVI's development: FFXIV released to critical and commercial failure in September 2010.

The fallout from the FFXIV debacle was devastating. In an attempt to salvage the MMORPG, Yoichi Wada decided in November 2010 to restructure the FFXIV development team and this also involved adding many new staff to the project. The headcount working on FFXVI (still known as FFXV at the time) took a massive cut, with almost all the staff being moved over to FFXIV. The plan was for the new FFXIV to be made from the ground up in only 2 years, which is why so many staff were required. According to my research, an estimated 80% of Ito's FFXVI staff were moved over to the FFXIV team. It was a smart move by Wada, though, as he didn't want to release the next mainline FF (Ito's game) when the preceding one had been a critical and commercial failure.

Considering that Ito had lost almost all of his staff and was now reduced to a skeleton crew, he went back to the drawing board for FFXVI and began streamlining his gameplay ideas so it could run smoothly on PS3/Xbox 360. However, in January 2011, Wada decided to rename VersusXIII to FFXV, as he believed there was no way Ito could get the real FFXV finished and released by the approaching end of the current console generation, especially considering he’d moved almost all of Ito's staff over to FFXIV and they were still busy remaking the game. Therefore, VersusXIII became FFXV and planned to be a cross-gen game (PS3 and PS4). At this time, Ito and his skeleton crew were still in the planning phase of FFXVI, but the targeted console of the game became undecided by management. As a result, Ito began to design the game as a cross-gen release. Around Q2/Q3 2011, Ito was approached by Shinichi Tatsuke and asked to design a new iOS Card RPG. Ito accepted and spent four weeks creating the planning document for what would become Guardian Cross.

In July 2012, Wada felt it was too little too late for current-gen and that FFXV should be next-gen exclusive, so it became a game for PS4/Xbox One. He then added the Type-0 team to the FFXV team and made Hajime Tabata the Co-Director. For reference, FF Type-0 was released in October 2011, so the entire development team were not tied to any major project when they were added to the FFXV team. Also, in July 2012, Wada told Ito to no longer bother attempting to make his game try to fit the limitations of current-gen and that his game would now be released as FFXVI for PS4/Xbox One and use Luminous Studio. This must have been a big relief for Ito, as he finally had all the RAM and CPU power needed that PS3/Xbox 360 were lacking. As a result, he returned to his original plans for the game he had in mind back when he began planning in Q1 2008, and from there he began to add even more depth to battle system and gameplay mechanics.

Ito was interviewed in September 2012 by respected game journalist Jeremy Parish. In this interview, Ito made it known that PS3/Xbox 360 couldn't support his gameplay ideas, "I feel like the "optimal" ATB has yet to come. I think it's the advance of hardware, and stuff like memory within that... I always had to be concerned about things like that initially, when I started doing this kind of thing. It's getting closer and closer to the optimum level where I can do exactly what I want to. It's getting there, but we're not actually there yet." By Ito saying that we're getting closer to the optimum level, he was referring to the PS4/Xbox One, which were not yet publicly announced, but for which Square Enix already had SDK (Software Development Kits). Later in the same interview, Ito made it known that he would return to the FF series if Yoichi Wada told him to, "I'm a working stiff, so if the president tells me to do it, I'll do it. [laughs] Talk to Mr. Wada." This was a tongue-in-cheek reply, as Wada had already told him to, but Ito couldn't break NDA and announce he's currently working on an unannounced FF game, so he replied playfully.

In Q1/Q2 2013, while Ito was still doing planning on FFXVI for PS4/Xbox One with his skeleton crew, he was again approached by Shinichi Tatsuke and asked to design the battle system for Deadman's Cross, which was aimed to be a successor to Guardian Cross. Ito's work on the battle system only took two weeks, as he was primarily evolving off his battle system in Guardian Cross. Ito had spent just over a year in the planning phase of FFXVI for PS4/Xbox One by the time FFXIV ARR finally released in August 2013. He couldn't move into pre-production due to his team still working on FFXIV ARR, so he focused on planning and making the battle system and gameplay mechanics of FFXVI as solid and in-depth as possible. A month before FFXIV ARR released, Shinji Hashimoto was interviewed by RPGSite in July 2013. Hashimoto was asked about what Ito was currently working on. Hashimoto responded, "He's been planning and doing some proposals for a new project at the moment, so... Really, he's the kind of guy that wants to challenge new things all the time, so, yeah. At the moment, he's doing... [laughs] He's putting some ideas together." Hashimoto obviously couldn't elaborate further on what the project actually was due to not wanting to break NDA. However, he did mention how much depth Ito was putting into the gameplay mechanics, "He's very, very in-depth... he likes the depth of the gameplay systems side of things. He really loves to go really deep on mechanics and things, and that takes time." Hashimoto knew that Ito's huge amount of gameplay depth is what caused FFXVI to struggle on PS3/Xbox 360, so he's happy that Ito now has the PS4/Xbox One hardware to work with.

So where does FFXVI stand right now?

When FFXIV ARR was finally finished and released in August 2013, all of the FFXII, Tactics Ogre PSP, and The Last Remnant team members were given back to Ito. By this point, Ito and his skeleton crew had already spent an entire year in the planning phase of FFXVI for PS4/Xbox One, so the staff that rejoined could immediately jump straight into the pre-production phase with Ito's already completed planning documents. While pre-production commenced, Ito continued refining and polishing his planning ideas while also directing the pre-production.

However, though Ito now had all his staff back, some of them now had major roles on FFXIV ARR and its future patches and expansions. For example, Hiroshi Minagawa was Visual Design Director of FFXVI (then known as FFXV) as far back as when the project first started in Q1 2008, but he was among the staff that Wada moved over to FFXIV. As it stands, Minagawa is multi-tasking as UI Director on FFXIV ARR and Visual Design Director on FFXVI. This is only one example, as there's likely other FFXVI staff that are also multi-tasking on both games.

As of typing this, it's September 2014, which means that FFXVI has been in development on PS4/Xbox One for just over two years. The first year was planning by Ito and his skeleton crew, while the second year was when pre-production started by the FFXVI team, who all returned from FFXIV ARR. I wouldn't be surprised if FFXVI is already up and running in Luminous Studio and in a basic playable state. That's not to say it's nearly finished, but rather that the game’s much further along than most people think. This is likely due to just how much time Ito and his team have spent in and out of the planning and pre-production phases since this project originally started in Q1 2008.

When will FFXVI be announced?

They could announce it at E3 2016, as that will be not long after FFXV likely releases in Q4 2015 for Japan and Q1 2016 in NA/EU. However, my main bet is the game will be announced as part of the Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary in 2017. Considering FFXVI is being made by Ito and the FFXII team, I'm sure a FFXII HD Remaster announcement will happen by them beforehand. If they announce FFXII HD Remaster in 2016, which is the 10th Anniversary of FFXII, you can be sure that FFXVI is planned to be announced in 2017, which is the Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary.
 
Last edited:

llazy77

Warrior of Light
May 27, 2014
1,140
522
24
#4
Hopefully It turns out to be amazing and washes the bad taste of The supposed casualized combat system we are hearing that XV is supposed to have from Tabata. Square Enix from the start of last gen to now has shown that they are pretty messed up when it comes to managment. From the whole debacle with the Final Fantasy XIII games to milking it by making sequels we did not want. To even now with Nomura leaving his project he worked on for so long for it to be taken over by someone who gave us a quote like this "I myself am not getting any younger. I don't want to be frantically pushing buttons." I mean is he serious. Hopefully With Final Fantasy XVI the game really returns Final Fantasy to what it was like during its golden age and gives us a Decent Turn based battle system If not a amazing one and i think that is going to happen seeing that Ito is one of the most competent developers inside of Square right now and from your analysis I have read from your two forum posts it is sounding really believable that A Final Fantasy XVI has been worked on it the backround all this time. Hopefully It does get revealed by next year along With a XII HD Its what we really need right now.
 
Likes: 1Truth2Lies

1Truth2Lies

Sphere Hunter
Jul 3, 2014
224
129
London
#5
Hopefully It turns out to be amazing and washes the bad taste of The supposed casualized combat system we are hearing that XV is supposed to have from Tabata. Square Enix from the start of last gen to now has shown that they are pretty messed up when it comes to managment. From the whole debacle with the Final Fantasy XIII games to milking it by making sequels we did not want. To even now with Nomura leaving his project he worked on for so long for it to be taken over by someone who gave us a quote like this "I myself am not getting any younger. I don't want to be frantically pushing buttons." I mean is he serious. Hopefully With Final Fantasy XVI the game really returns Final Fantasy to what it was like during its golden age and gives us a Decent Turn based battle system If not a amazing one and i think that is going to happen seeing that Ito is one of the most competent developers inside of Square right now and from your analysis I have read from your two forum posts it is sounding really believable that A Final Fantasy XVI has been worked on it the backround all this time. Hopefully It does get revealed by next year along With a XII HD Its what we really need right now.
I highly doubt FFXVI will be revealed next year. I'm thinking E3 2016 at the absolute earliest.

Also, you can be certain the battle system for FFXVI will be complex with Ito at the helm. A journalist from this very forum asked Shinji Hashimoto in July 2013 about the battle system of the secret game Hiroyuki Ito was working on and Hashimoto replied the battle system was very, very in-depth and would take time to complete. Here's the quote an source:
RPG Site: I'm very interested to see what he does next. For RPG gameplay systems I really do feel he's one of the best there is; one of your strongest assets.

Hashimoto: Like you say, he's very talented and very involved. He's very, very in-depth... he likes the depth of the gameplay systems side of things. He really loves to go really deep on mechanics and things, and that takes time. I'm very excited to see his ideas soon!
http://www.rpgsite.net/interview/31...-with-final-fantasy-producer-shinji-hashimoto

I have faith that Ito will deliver. His track record with mainline FF battle systems is stellar and goes all the way back to the first FF.
 
Likes: Nova_Somnus
Sep 26, 2013
1,612
626
#6
It's possible that one reason why Final Fantasy Versus XIII was changed to Final Fantasy XV is because the next numbered Final Fantasy game was no where in sight at that point in time. In other words... If Final Fantasy Versus XIII was still a thing and came out on PS3, Square Enix would not have a Final Fantasy game for the beginning of this generation.

Square Enix management has been a total mess after all.
 
Likes: 1Truth2Lies

1Truth2Lies

Sphere Hunter
Jul 3, 2014
224
129
London
#7
It's possible that one reason why Final Fantasy Versus XIII was changed to Final Fantasy XV is because the next numbered Final Fantasy game was no where in sight at that point in time. In other words... If Final Fantasy Versus XIII was still a thing and came out on PS3, Square Enix would not have a Final Fantasy game for the beginning of this generation.

Square Enix management has been a total mess after all.
IMO, more than management, it's the huge failure of FFXIV. Had that game been a success, FFXIV ARR would never have needed to be made. Therefore, VersusXIII would not have got renamed and Nomura not ejected from the project. Also, Ito would have kept his 200-300 staff instead of them all being given to Naoki Yoshia to make FFXIV ARR in 2-3 years. Basically, if FFXIV was a success in September 2010, we'd have got VersusXIII in Nomura's original vision and with him still directing released by Q4 2012. FFXV by Ito would then be released in Q4 2013 as a cross-gen game. Kitase/Toriyama wouldn't even need to make LR FFXIII, and instead have already started on FFXVI or FFVII Remake by Q1 2012 for release on PS4/Xbox One.
 
May 26, 2014
625
172
#15
With regards to the development history of FFXVI, I've come to this conclusion by in-depth research via reading countless interviews with various Square Enix developers and executives since early 2009, and also comparing the credits of all Square Enix games released since FFXII IZJS in 2007.
Now that's dedication...

edit: Yeah, seriously though, how in the world did you have the patience to do that?
 
Likes: 1Truth2Lies

1Truth2Lies

Sphere Hunter
Jul 3, 2014
224
129
London
#16
Now that's dedication...

edit: Yeah, seriously though, how in the world did you have the patience to do that?
It wasn't hard. After all, internally developed Square Enix Japan games don't release every week. We all know they sure take their time putting games out, as FFXV proves. :p

Also, I was mainly looking for names of staff that worked on FFXII. As it stands, I discovered many of them worked on The Last Remnant (2008) and Tactics Ogre PSP (2010). That's about it. They've mostly been MIA. However, with FFXIV ARR, I'd say over 50% of the total FFXII development team worked on the game. They must have been working on something before being moved to that project, and I think it was FFXVI. The question now is, are all those FFXII staff still working on FFXIV ARR via patches and expansions, or have they been given back to Hiroyuki Ito so he can push forward with FFXVI? Only time will tell. However, we'd get answers to questions like this if more video game journalists did their research and asked Square Enix developers. That doesn't include investigative journalists like @APZonerunner, though. He actually bothered to ask abut Ito, to which Hashimoto was greatly surprised. His surprise speaks volumes of how there's many video gaming journalists don't play detective enough.

Also, I'm still waiting for a video game journalist to ask Naoki Yoshida if the 300+ internal staff headcount on FXIV ARR has greatly decreased since the game released in August 2013. The answer could give insight into if many FFXII staff are still on the project. If they're no longer on FFXIV ARR, they've likely been given back to Ito for FFXVI.
 

1Truth2Lies

Sphere Hunter
Jul 3, 2014
224
129
London
#18
Ah, I was thinking you did it for every game SE published, like all the DQ remakes, Star Ocean, etc.
LOL! No, that would've been overkill. :D

I mainly stuck to all their internally developed games across all platforms. That said, I did watch the credits of Dragon Quest X, seeing as it was developed internally. There were like 4-5 key FFXII staff that worked on the game.