Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Entry #3: Preorders and DLC

For the longest time my staff and I have held the view that any game should be shipped as a complete game, containing all the game that was intended to be in the game (yes, you just lost).

But unfortunately, this philosophy caused a lot of backlash in the case of FFXIII. Not because people want to pay out the ass for content that should be in the original game (though if that's what you like, please do not let me discourage you), but because FFXIII, frankly, had no content. Like, nothing. This was fine because I wanted to make a story-driven game for a story-driven audience that would enjoy the game's story (driven).

A lot of people have accused me of using the term "story-driven" to avoid saying "we were too lazy to make towns in HD so everything's a tunnel". But that's just not true. You can't tell stories without tunnels, which is why people who play games like Fallout 3 always respond with, "There was a story?" when you ask them if it was well-written.

However, since FFXIII-2 is moving towards being player-driven, we've decided to adopt a more Western approach to game design, choosing to take tips from Western RPGs like Hitman and Tomb Raider, and also from companies like Bioware and Bethesda. As a result, we've laid off all of our bug testers, and told our programmers and artists to squeeze their testicles as hard as possible while designing, not releasing their grip until they're done. This has led to an astoundingly fast development time, which is why FFXIII-2 is only taking two years to make (or, in Square Enix time, about five minutes).

These Western practices have also led us to consider downloadable content and exclusive preorder content. We ran into a slight problem with this towards the end of development. Wanting to make the game more player-driven, we'd poured the entirety of our content into the game, allowing players a vast amount of choices such as what swimsuit color Serah should wear and whether Noel should get tighter pants. When it came time to decide on DLC, we had absolutely nothing left to offer. There was literally nothing else we could fit into the world of FFXIII-2, because the game had literally everything. Literally. I am not exaggerating. Name something and I will bet that it was in FFXIII-2. It had every other game ever made (and even those not made yet) contained within it, any of which you can play at any time at the Nautilus theme park.

Since it had everything, there was no extra content we could offer. We wracked our brains, hired an astrophysicist to help us theorize concepts outside of our known universe, created and built 10-dimensional game development tools (which actually took about ten times as long as Crystal Tools, but we moved back through the 6th dimension to get back to our original timeline so it doesn't seem as long). But even with all this, there was nothing we could create that wasn't already in FFXIII-2.

So, we did the only thing we could do if we wanted to offer DLC: cut content out of the game. Cut the hell out of it. So, whereas the older FFXIII-2 had literally everything, the current FFXIII-2 is pretty much just another Korean soap opera with battles. But the good news is that it has mini-games this time. Everything else will be released as DLC somewhere down the line.

We've also taken a unique route with the preorder bonuses. Whereas other games offer you a bonus costume or weapon for preordering at a certain store, we've decided to split the actual game up into several parts. To get all of it, you'll have to preorder from 5 different stores, which will each give you 20% of the game disc. Then you just weld it together at home (get your parents to help you with this) and pop it in your console to begin playing. I've been asked what to do if welding the disc damages it beyond repair, and for that you'll have to speak to the retailers who sold you the game. Hopefully, welding doesn't void your warranty.

People think we're fucking around when we talk about this game being player-driven. We're not. It's so player-driven that you have to write the game code and design the characters and environments yourself. Yes, I know I mentioned programmers and artists and testicle-squeezing before, and it seems pointless to have them if players themselves have to code the game. Well, to that I say: shut up.

The preorder system is also about being player-driven. We turned acquiring the game into a sidequest of its own. Now you can go on a journey to different retailers, collecting the pieces to FFXIII-2, and then put them together yourself. You're essentially playing the game for free before you even get it. I would ask you to thank us, but your money should end up doing that anyway.

I'm sure this is blowing the minds of all of our Western friends, who didn't expect Square Enix to modernize anytime soon. Well, not only are we modernizing, we're innovating, bitch.

So, preorder early and begin grinding, because the boss battle against GameStop customer service is a motherfucker.

1 comment:

  1. Moto no one is reading this man no one cares anymore. Lightning is done.