Ideas and Thoughts: Final Fantasy VII: The Fittage

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28-Nov-97

I'd thought about the FF VII size issue before, but after reading Adam's editorial on it, I felt compelled to write my version down. You now see the fruits of my loom.

The following is information I got from the [1] September '97 E-mailbag, from a response Peer made...

407MB of that are the pre-rendered sequences (this includes long narrative scenes, but also short camera moves, etc)

4MB is dedicated to mini games

0.5 to the battle sequences

over 10MB takes care of enemy textures and enemy 3D meshes

138MB field and field texture data and backgrounds

45MB for the real-time magic animations (sprite and polygon-based)

0.5MB for the menu system

783KB sound

28.8MB for the world data

about 14MB of program data

So, let's start chopping down, shall we? First of all, let's get rid of all those nasty FMV sequences. We'll replace them with realtime polygon stuff. Let's lose about 400 MB of 650 there (down to 250 MB). Minigames I'll leave be. 10 MB of enemies and enemy textures alone? Hmm... let's chop 6 MB there (down to 244 MB). 138 MB field and field texture data and backgrounds!?! Now that is just too much. I know that it could be cut further, but let's just say that we only keep 20 MB of that (down to 126 already). 45 MB for magic? We can surely make that 10 (which puts us down to 91). Let's leave the sound and program data alone and cut the world data down to, say, 11.8 MB. We're down to only 74 MB. Lookie there. I've heard that the entire game of FF7 is on each CD, but the FMVs are different. I've heard of people switching the CD at certain points, and being able to continue play. I'm inclined to believe this, since so much of the info would be repeated anyways. So 91 MB... that's less than the space of 2 64DD disks. For an FF7 without all the prerendered stuff. Even if we did multiply what I cut it down to by 3, we're still only going on to 4 disks.

There is a problem with this, though. If put onto multiple disks, most of the stuff that would need be put on both (textures, creature info, etc.) is what takes up most of the space. But if I was able to cut it down to 74 MB, I'm sure 10 more couldn't hurt much. :) Or you could have the things like the menu screen and program on a cart. Then you could fit the rest on the disk, and it'd even be easy to make a new game that would work with the engine, if you so desired.

I have a thought, though, for other RPGs. Remember games such as Final Fantasy III, where in essence you have 2 worlds? Well, wouldn't that be perfect for multi-disk games? One has the "before" world, story, cut-scenes, monsters, textures, etc. The other has the "after" world (afterworld... hmm...), story, cut-scenes, a slightly different pack of monsters, textures, etc.

Even if this wasn't enough to convince you that a fairly good port of FF VII could make it on the 64DD, I hope it still does show what CAN be done. I mean, perhaps 64DD RPGs won't be able to have as much graphically if you consider pre-rendered stuff, but if it can even come close, well...

Update - November 29, 1997

I have a few more things to say. I didn't want to put up a whole new thing which would be complimentary to this, and figured that if I was going to change it, I should do it quickly. Seeing as it's been less than 24 hours, so far so good. FYI, I'm not cutting or replacing anything, just adding more... and nothing above has been changed. Now, you can consider this Final Fantasy VII : The Fittage: Special Edition!

I'd like to say that I feel I could've written it cut down even more than I did. What I'm talking about mainly is the textures. I feel I was being generous when I left 6 (out of 10 MB) for enemy textures and 3D meshes. I mean, I remember games such as StarFox 64 and Goldeneye, and all the textures they had in a 12 MB cart, and you know the textures are only a part of that because you've got to count for the actual program, sound, etc. Now the 128 MB I cut down to 20 MB, I again feel I was being generous. Why? Well, the idea of having everything look unique didn't appeal to me. Well, I don't know if that's the best way to put it. Hmm... well, it doesn't appeal to me if it can use so much less and still look great, whereas if everything was unique, it would just make it less N64 (or even 64DD)-compatible! So if I felt I was being generous, why didn't I cut it down more? Well, I didn't want to go TOO far. I knew if I said "128 MB down to 2!", or something like that, I'd probably never hear the end of it! :) And I sorta did even say less, when I said that if only 10 more MB than what I cut it down to was taken out, it could about fit on a 64DD disk. If I did cut anything too small, I'd say it would be the transition from FMV to real-time polygon animation. Of course, perhaps that 7 MB would be perfectly capable, but I really don't know how much it would take up. I just know that again, in games like StarFox 64 and Goldeneye that they had plenty o' real-time stuff, with it only being part of 12 MB. The prob is, I don't know how much of a part. :) OK, I'll keep my end conclusion the same, but for everything that needs to be added to real-time animation, we'll cut from textures, eh? Sounds good to me.

I guess I do have at least one more other thing to comment on... Sony's ad which says something about how if FF VII were a cartridge game, it'd be over $1,200. Well, let me figger something. If we just cut out the FMV, and leave everything as it is, we get about 250 MB, right? And I cut it down to about 80 MB, right? So I'll use those as our poles. Now, Nintendo charges about $20 to 3rd-parties for normal (as of now) sized carts, right? Now, figuring that down to the MB, it's about $2 (I'm estimating up here). And let's add in... say, $40 for profit. Using these numbers, a cartridge version would cost $200 to $540. Not exactly cheap, but not exactly $1,200 either. If we use the numbers Sony themselves used, we get (1,950 MB / $1,200) 1.625 MB a dollar (or 1 MB for about $0.62). Using those numbers, and still adding in that $40 profit, we get $90-$194. Even I think that's quite low, but I just had to use their numbers against them. :)

Update #2: December 3, 1997

I thought of one more thing to say. It's not a huge deal, but... I've heard about how little loading time FF VII had... well then, the more-than-twice-the-speed 64DD with less textures, etc. would be even quicker. :)

Joshua Slone is currently considered legally sane.