Square Enix Japan working on major project with American team

Square Enix’s Yosuke Shiokawa and Yuki Matsuzawa have said during the annual CEDEC development conference that the publisher is currently hard at work on a “large scale project” – according to Famitsu.com – with an American development team said to be “a top class title that targets overseas core gamers.”

Shiokawa, who served as director on Dissidia: Final Fantasy, will be directing the game while Matsuzawa, a concept artist for Final Fantasy XIII, will be doing concept art. They’re both working outside of Japan with the American team.

While the pair of developers didn’t name the title, they did give a brief timeline of the game’s development. Apparently, it’s been over a year and a half since development began. The first six months were spent creating a prototype of the game while the second were spent making a 15-minute gameplay build at 70% quality. Another four months were spent playing the 15-minute demo and getting feedback. Creations of the development environment also began. At the moment, the game is in full production.

The session where all this information was presented was called “Our First Japanese and American Group Development.” After confirming this new game, the two spoke on their feelings towards North American game development.

They broke their initial thoughts on western development into three points: “focus on realistic games,” “top down production model,” and “lots of documentation.” They turned out to be wrong, though.

Shiokawa initially thought that characters in western games are too focused on realism and therefore cannot put slim characters or women characters in action. Thus, they’re instead replaced by macho Gears of War-like characters. When Shiokawa began working with the American team, he saw otherwise, as they said they’d rather not have “realism”, as it’s too boring. At the same time, they didn’t want “fantasy” either as they felt it was too flashy or hard to understand. He concluded that characters in western games are meant to be “believable”.

Shiokawa concluded his presentation with a slide reading: “Not a focus on realistic games, not fantasy, but believability.”

Matsuzawa, on the other hand, came to see that his belief of western “top down production models” were false, as well. The American team they’re working with did not like this approach. Instead of having development decisions being made by a higher power, he sees that the staff rather enjoy taking part in game creation. Matsuzawa even drew some characters, brought it to a staff meeting, and had them debate about whether or not they felt it was right for the game.

Matsuzawa concluded his presentation with a slide reading: “Not top-down decision making, but group decision making and reading between the lines.”

Square Enix teased on Monday that they’ll be announcing a new game this week. Could this Japanese-Western cross-over be it?

Thanks, Andriasang.

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