News from March 2018
Square Enix have this week announced the creation of a new internal studio for games development in Tokyo. Called "Luminous Productions" in a likely nod to the Luminous Engine used to power Final Fantasy XV, the new studio will be run by Square Enix Chief Operating Officer Hajime Tabata and will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of the mothership. Based on the press release, the new studio will be focused on AAA-tier games, with the implication that the studio will be targeted towards new intellectual properties.
That said, the seed of the studio appears to be the "creative team behind Final Fantasy XV," so there remains the possibility that this studio may be tasked with future Final Fantasy games; they're certainly looking for fresh blood as well, as they have nearly thirty job listings on their new website. All that information makes it impossible to predict what sorts of projects they may undertake until a planned announcement later this year, but current evidence certainly seems to say they're looking for home runs.
Final Fantasy XIV, given its tenure and many expansions, naturally has a huge number of musical selections. Not all of them may be widely known due to the game's status as an MMO among many more single-player entries in the series, of course, and the recent Regalia Playlist Championship featured just one song from the game (and it failed to clear the first round due to a rough matchup).
But really, though, this is a game that, when I compiled tracks for Regalia, turned up three hundred and twenty individual tracks. That's a lot of options! And now, if you're heading to E3 this year, you can see a live orchestra play through a number of them at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The concert is called "Eorzean Symphony," and will be played on June 15 and 16 at 8pm. Producer Naoki Yoshida, composer Masayoshi Soken, and featured vocalist Susan Calloway will be in attendance at both shows, with VIP tickets available to meet all three at $189 a ticket. Standard tickets start at $59.
If you prefer your concerts to be a little more European, though, and are planning a trip to Gamescom this summer, you will be able to take the relatively short trip from Cologne to Dortmund to see the same show August 24 and 25th.
A job posting appeared on Friday from Square Enix, looking for "core members" of the Final Fantasy VII Remake project. It appears that this specific listing is for a level planner, laying out areas in the Remake world using Unreal Engine 4. The listing also mentions potential roles for battle planners, designers, and engineers (in this context, likely game developers), with some of those roles coming from inside Square Enix and others being outside hires.
Part of this news was new to me in the case that the development of the game was previously being done outside of Square Enix, by a company called CyberConnect. Now it appears that headquarters has fully assimilated the project, hence the need for some hiring and organizational shifting to accommodate the work.
This news is also a bit illuminating as a look inside the company's practices that I personally haven't seen before. At least for this role, they are not looking for a minimum level of experience, implying that the hiring will be done based mainly on prior portfolio. The salary starts at about USD $34,000 a year, with no upper bound mentioned; that would seem to me like they're willing to bring in a very junior person for this specific role if necessary. I don't know what game devs typically make in Japan, but I do know that you wouldn't get much of a developer here in the States for that money. They also promise a forty-hour work week, which I would find a little difficult to believe in this industry and on a game of this importance.
The other big conclusion you can draw from this is probably a bit more sad - if they're just now bringing the work in house and are hiring for roles like these currently, that would probably indicate that there hasn't been much progress in development yet. I wouldn't hold my breath to see much new this year, though the late-year Tokyo Game Show might be an option.
Source: Siliconera, Kotaku
The most RPG-related news from yesterday's Nintendo Direct came via Square Enix, who announced that SaGa: Scarlet Grace would be ported from its original PlayStation Vita release to Switch later this year. Scarlet Grace is the latest game in the series, released in late 2016 for Vita; as of yet, there has never been a release of the game outside of Japan. As of its release, it was also the first new main-line SaGa game in over a decade.
When this news first broke yesterday at Nintendo Direct, the announcement was specific for Switch, leading Western SaGa fans to worry that there would be no port this time around either. However, since that time, Squenix have confirmed that the game is also coming for PS4, iOS, Android, and Windows, all for release this year. While there's no specific confirmation of a release outside of Japan yet, it is incredibly unlikely that the company will release for smartphones and Windows and not release an English translation simultaneously. This official confirmation is sure to come soon.