Ideas and Thoughts: Super Final Fantasy VII: The Fittage THF2ITNCVRPGI

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Ideas and Thoughts: Super Final Fantasy VII: The Fittage Turbo Hyper Fighting: 2nd Impact: The New Challenger VS RPG Idears

8-Jan-98

I recently got the chance to play Final Fantasy VII on my uncle Michael's PlayStation for several hours recently.  With my new knowledge of the game and yet more thoughts, I can write another thing on RPGs, and even a bit on 2D games in general...

First of all, let me say that his PSX had problems.  He's had his system about the same time as I've had my N64, and it skips in redbook audio and FMV.  That is, unless his PlayStation is upside down, and even then we had problems once or twice.

First, I'll say a bit more of the game's graphics, and how I had it cut down in my other I&T.;  A bit surprised at how much I cut out of the game's prerendered backgrounds?  Don't be.  Think of it this way: I divided it by about 7.  Then every bit of graphics which was used only one place in the game would still only be used 7 times.  How many other games can claim even that?  That would make the way it has graphics similar to SMRPG, only much better.  I mean, many things were used more than 7 times on a single screen!  :)  Or imagine WarCraft 2.  That game used prerendered backgrounds with a 3/4 overhead view, and it didn't have too much to it.  I mean, a large chunk of it was character animation, which in FF VII's case would be turned polygonal.  And just remember how litle you'd run into it even if it was used 20 times over, or at least how little it would matter.  For insance, in the time I got to play, I went to Shinra headquarters, much of which looked like an office building.  Now, if I told you you'd run into several potted plants that looked the same, would you be horrified?  I'd certainly hope not!

And I was a bit surprised with the enemies.  I mean, I saw some repeated with different colors.  While I'm used to this from other games, with such a huge game I just assumed they'd have much more... not that there's anything wrong with that, IMHO, it's just that after spending so much space on FMV and backgrounds... well, in my figurings I chopped this from 10 MB down to 6 (enemy 3D models and textures, that is).  For one thing, I didn't see many textures, and without many textures, you really don't need as many textures, see?  Also, like I said, repeating enemies isn't bad, so if a few more need to be cut, so be it.  Again remember all the textures, 3D enemies, etc. in current N64 games, and they have the rest of the game, music, and more in with it!

The huge amount of space spent on magic effects didn't hugely impress me, either.  I mean, sure the big guys you summoned looked cool once or twice, but then... and the spells like Cure didn't look anything special.  I mean, sure they looked nice, but nothing which would justify so much space being spent on it.

From what I heard, the music wasn't the best.  I mean, the sound quality was great, and it was better than many other games, but compared to FF III...

I'm sure glad I didn't get this done yesterday, as planned.  Today I got more "insight" from the opposing view from my friend Chad Heck.  But I'm afraid there's no convincing him.  He went as far today as to say that taking out the FMV would take away the fun!  He also said he was offended by my statement that having everything look unique didn't appeal to me.  Remember, I said IF THAT WAS THE REASON IT COULDN'T BE DONE ON 64DD.  And even so, it just makes more work for those super computers when a great-looking game easily could use much less, but that's a whole 'nother story.  Of course, I suggested Chad get Riven.  :)  I don't see how he's going to like any N64 games from now on if FMV is what was fun about FF VII.  I did suggest he write an editorial explaining WHY my thoughts on this subject wouldn't work, we'll see if anything comes of it.

Now on to the loading.  It wasn't that bad, actually.  At least compared to Suikoden, which I had the chance to try a few days before.  The switch from one screen to the next only took a bit over a second.  Battles are a different story.  Well, either that or they intentionally wanted to make it really slow to get into battles.  In older FFs, when you'd get into a battle, the screen would do a quick zoom-in-out-in thing, and possibly say "Back Attack" or some such, but it was fairly quick to get into it.  FF VII isn't so... first, the zoom-in-out-in thing has been replaced with an effect that kinda twists the screen and slowly (at least comparatively) zooms into the middle of it.  It does look pretty cool, but... then there's the little-over-a-second black screen time, like with the switching of areas.  Then the battle screen is up, but you're not there.  It takes it's time as the camera circles around, you appear, and the menu selections FINALLY appear.  Now, the whole process only takes a few seconds, it's still a few seconds, compared to 1/3 or less of that for previous games.  Let's say from the beginning of the twist effect to the appearance of the menu items is about 4 seconds.  Now let's say you only get in 1000 battles (If your game is 50 hours, that's only 20 an hour, so I'm betting you get into many more than that).  That's 4000 seconds.  That's 66 minutes.  That's over an hour just waiting for battles to start up.  Basically, what I'm saying is that while load time is better than most PSX games I've played, it's still noticeable, and with less to load and a faster way to load it, a 64DD game would be quite quicker.

Even from the few hours I played, the translation didn't seem to be as good as past games.  I mean, I can remember a few mistranslations in FF III such as where some guys say "frightful dragon" when it's meant to say "dinosaur", but not really grammar errors... in the 5 hours I played, I noticed 2.  One: This guy are sick.  Two: Too tempting to not to pursue.  Really, translation errors bug me.  I just don't see how multiple testers would've missed 'em, if they were doing their job properly... actually, now that I think about it, I recall a few in FF II... but not on a 1:2.5 hour ratio, if FF VII continued like that...

And when I said I'd be mentioning 2D games, well, I already have somewhat.  FF VII is no more 3D than the other games, at least in gameplay.  And the majority of the time it's still the 3/4 overhead view, too.  Anyways, think about it.  If you leave the polygon graphics of the game, you're mainly going to end up with the characters and a few chests...

Anyways, most of the rest of the game is 2D, with a 3/4 overhead view, like I said.  And it's largely rendered.  Similar to SMRPG, except with much more rendered stuff.  And like I said before, imagine a game like SMRPG (or any game, for that matter), where each object was repeated so few times.

Now, how do 2D games use space?  Well, like most games, graphics, sound, engine.  Now, how could we improve them, and how much extra space would that take?  Well, let's improve the graphics...

To make more sprites, we'll multiply the graphics space of the game by however much we wanted to add.  For double the sprites, x2.  For triple, x3.

How 'bout making the sprites look better?  Well, you could add more animation.  For double the number of frames per sprite, multiply, as was done above.  Also, making them higher-res.  For a mid-res game we multiply it all by 2, for hi-ris, 4.

Now that I've got that said, let's take, say FF III.  I don't know how much space the graphics takes up of the 3 MB, I'll just say 2.  Again, I'm estimating at what I believe to be an extreme... anyways, let's add 50% more sprites to the game, add 50% more animation per sprite, and put it in mid res... OK, so the 2 MB x 1.5 x 1.5 x 2 = 9 MB + that last 1 = 10 MB.  That's right in between SM64 and Goldeneye.  But what about if we wanted to put it on 64DD?  Well, first let's say that the game is hi-res.  That's a huge step.  I mean, it takes up 4x as much space per sprite (assuming you don't just want smaller sprite being blow up, which would basically ruin the hi-res-ness), and it probably wouldn't make as much of a difference as it would with polygon games.  I mean, sure a bit more detail could be added, but... OK, we'll take that 2 MB from FF III and multiply it by 4.  Now we're at 8.  For the other things we'll multiply by 2.5 apiece... now we're using 50 MB, leaving 10 for writeability or what-not.  But what if we only wanted to use mid-res?  Well, we could then use 3.5x for the animation/sprite amount, and have 11 MB left for writeability.  But what if we wanted to use the same res as FF III, and what most N64 games use?  Well, then for the sprite # and animation amount, both could be 5x what is used in FF III.  However you look at it, a killer game.  Oh, and you may haven noticed that 4 MB disappeared from my 64DD figurings above.  I was of course counting in for that 1 MB that I'd cut out at the beginning, and just having 4x as much of whatever was left, sound, music, etc...

Again, I plead, you disagree, write an editorial of your own.  If I can combat it, it'll give me a good excuse to write another one of these.  :)

Hello, everyone.  This marks the beginning of day 3 of the making of this, and boy am I glad I didn't get it up yesterday.  Seems my pal Chad did decide to write an editorial thing, which you can find on it's own here.  I'm putting the bits here, and putting what I think...

The first editorial that I want to deal with is that Final Fantasy VII on 64DD.  This simply would not work!  First you are taking out many of the best features of the game.  I can agree that the FMV sequences would have to go, but I can't agree that you could replace that with 250 MB and still have the same effect.

First of all, I suggested using MUCH less than 250 MB for that replacing the FMV.  250 MB in itself is 4 64DD disks!  250 MB is about the number I used for what was left of the size of FF VII if you take out the FMV... anyways, yeah, I suggested using real-time animation for the things FMV is used for in the game.  Real time animation uses so much less (be expecting a writing on this soon from me), and while it doesn't quite come up to FMV on looks, it has some advantages, the biggest in this case being the space used.  And come on... we all know that N64 real-time animation can look great.

I am guessing that the large space for magic is primarily used for the summon spells.  If you cut out that much you would have to make summon spells just like all of the other spells taking away a certain uniqueness from that which is what makes them so special.

Well, some could be taken out.  Just earlier today I heard you and Chet overtalking how you didn't like some very well (in their actual use).  And sure they wouldn't look quite so special, but like I said above, it gets monotonous and lengthy after watching it a time or two.

Do you remember how choppy the graphics were when flying in Setzer's Airship in U.S. FF III?  On the Playstation they eliminated this.  Now if you take almost half of the world data away that would make them choppy as well.

And why wouldn't the world still look great on the N64?  For one thing, the reason it looked blocky on the SNES is simple.  Zoom up really close on anything and it's going to end up that way or (more so on the N64) blurry.  If you wanted it like the SNES one, only less blocky, it could be easily done.  Just make it a more detailed sprite-based one, and it would be very easy to fit into the 12 or so MB I left for it in my choppings.  That's several times the size of FF III itself.  By making it more detailed, instead of being blocky up close (at least not as much so), it would mean making it smaller and less detailed far away.  But the PSX version of the world map is polygonal, is it not?  Now, what I keep thinking is how all the nearly 29 MB of space is used.  That's nearly the size of Zelda: TOOT, and all used on just the world map!?!  Give me a break...  Even when I cut it down to 12, I still can't imagine what kind of world map could be made with Goldeneye-sized space!

The same reasons would apply for field and field texture data.  Now on to the statements after the first.  More was cut out from textures?!  This is going to be even more blocky!

I think you misunderstand my ways of cutting out textures, background usage, etc.  I don't mean just making everything lower-res, and thus blocky, to save space.  I just mean using things more often.  But I already talked about that above.  Or you could look at it the other way.  What I mean is how much more 20 MB is than a game like FF III.  You COULD look at it like "Oh my god, this is going to be used 10 whole times?  Gasp!", or you could look at it like "So each texture's only going to be reused 10% or less of the amount it was in FF III?  Not bad."

Now let us look at Nintendo's philosophy of quality over quantity.  Gamers are going to be very upset with not only Square for making such a crappy game that really doesn't take advantage of the N64 (and DD for that matter) features and power, but Nintendo for letting a game like this be released.

Let me get this straight: Even if it ends up looking like you envisioned (all blocky and such), you are saying that taking away the FMV, and decreasing graphic quality makes FF VII a crappy game.  Think about that.  Also think about this: Nintendo lets games like War Gods and Cruis'n USA get released, do you think they'd let even a sub-par graphics-quality RPG get held back?

And about not using the advantages of the N64/64DD.  Sure it would!  The polygonal graphics would look better, for one thing.  For another, the matter of saving.  You buy the PlayStation one, you're stuck unless you have a memory card.  With a 64DD there's not this problem.

In conclusion, FF VII was made for a playstation without Nintendo ever being in mind.

I totally disagree with this.  I mean, people originally thought it was to be for N64.  And I'm sure the developers thought the word Nintendo now and then.  Of course this isn't what you meant, but... :)

It was made for multiple CD's with large amounts of storage.

This is my point.  They didn't have to even try to conserve space!  If you didn't have a need to, would you?  Most likely your answer would be no.  The same is true here.  If they were told to fit the game on one CD, they'd probably off (at least most of) the FMV, and it would be a cinch.  If they were told to make it fittable on the 64DD, they'd be able to do that too.

It may be possible, but at the expense of quality.

Again, we come back to your statement of graphics = quality.  Again, I must suggest Riven to you.  Even if graphics = quality, don't even try to tell me N64 has bad graphics...

And I don't know if he's getting the full point of my thoughts on FF VII coming to the 64DD.  I wasn't saying that it should be ported or anything.  I'm just saying that it's not impossible.  Basically to combat the people who say it's not (such as Chad, it seems).  I mean, whenever I hear someone saying "FF VII proves CD is much better than 64DD, since it would take 30 disks to make a game like FF VII..." (usually it goes on, saying something about depth of game, length, and how an N64 version would all be about eye candy (that last bit makes me chuckle inside)), it just about makes me sick.  That's why I love to tell them that it's only the size of 4 if you took out the FMV.  :)

Chet (the previously mentioned other friend of mine) didn't really participate in Chad and I's debate today, but he did say something which reminded me of my above statements on how great 2D games could be.  He made a comment on how they could easily put the story and all in an improved FF III engine.  Chad then said something about how they'd have to remake the game... But I don't see what'd be such the difference between making it 3D and that...

I'm not saying FF VII is a bad game.  Far from it.  I plan to get the PC version when it comes out later this year.  I'm just saying the reason it's great is not because it can waste hundreds of MBs of space in a single bound.

Joshua Slone has signed the Square 64 petition.