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Kingdom Hearts III Playable... for the Press


Kingdom Hearts
Sometime this week - it seems like nobody knows or is allowed to say exactly when, from my reading - there is going to be a press-only event to play Kingdom Hearts III. Obviously, we're not quite "pressy" enough to get that invite, but that's okay! Even from the outside looking in, there's some valuable information just in knowing that this event is going to occur. For one, having an event like this definitely implies that the "2018" release date is going to stick; we're almost halfway through the year, but it's definitely reasonable to assume now that they will manage to at least hit a holiday release. For another, the game must be coming together pretty well in Squenix' eyes, or else they wouldn't be taking the step to let people play a functional version of the game before E3 starts.

In any event, journalists who get a chance to play the game will be allowed to start posting their thoughts at 9am Eastern this coming Friday, May 18. We'll know then roughly how things are looking, and if they are given any other information, like a release window or announcement that Steamboat Willie is the Big Bad, at that time.

Source: Gematsu
Posted in: Square-Enix News

Square Enix Announce E3 Showcase Video


E3 Expo
They're still not doing a real standalone presser, having discontinued that practice after the 2015 version of E3, but for 2018 Square Enix will be doing a prerecorded broadcast on June 11, starting at 1pm Eastern time, or 6pm GMT. It will be broadcast over YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Twitter, and a streaming network called Mixer that I've never actually heard of because I'm not young and/or cool. It will also be available via Square Enix' E3 microsite.

Beyond that, details are a bit thin so far. We know that the broadcast will be available in Japanese and English, and there will be no physical location to watch the stream in person at or near E3, with the company relying solely on the distributed stream. The company does not plan to pre-publish a list of games to be discussed, nor is there any word as to whether any of the major pressers will include any Squenix game information in advance. Of course, that leaves us plenty of room to speculate! I think it's a lock that we'll see much more new information around Kingdom Hearts III and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, quite likely that there will be some new content for Final Fantasy XIV, Final Fantasy XV, Dissidia NT and the ongoing mobile games discussed, and not out of the realm of possibility that we'll get announcements of some new mobile games or ports for immediate release. I doubt we'll get anything out of Final Fantasy VII, though.

Source: Gematsu

Way More Final Fantasy Concerts Coming in 2018


Distant Worlds
It's time again for another Final Fantasy concert roundup, as Square Enix have just published another new set of dates to fill in some gaps in the year's slate. If you look back to our update in February, you'll see that there were already quite a few shows scheduled, starting with several for Distant Worlds - Paris this weekend, Vancouver and Cleveland in June, San Francisco in August, and North Carolina in October. On top of those, now you've got these 2018 options (and the start of 2019!):
  • Houston, July 7
  • Washington, DC, August 10
  • Seattle, September 12 and 13
  • Rochester, NY, September 25
  • Boca Raton, FL, November 2 and 3
  • Denver, May 2 and 3, 2019
If you're one of those folks hoping for a Nobuo Uematsu meetup, you'll want the DC and Seattle shows, for now.

If you've seen Distant Worlds many times or just want the smaller experience, we still have A New World. Boston's show is still tomorrow night, and until now the only other upcoming shows were in Europe, in Prague and Vienna. The new shows:
  • Rosemont, IL, May 19 and 20
  • Fort Worth, TX, June 9
  • Washington, DC, August 12
  • Philadelphia, September 21
  • St. Paul, Minnesota, September 28
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan, September 29
  • Montclair, New Jersey, November 2
You'll note that if you're really hardcore, you can see both Distant Worlds and A New World in Washington in the same weekend, and meet Uematsu twice! And, if you're doing the Texas show, composer Naoshi Mizuta from Parasite Eve II and the second two games of the Final Fantasy XIII series will be in attendance there.

This looks like a really great lineup for the rest of the year. Nothing I'll be able to make it to myself, unfortunately, but I'm excited that they seem to really be branching out!

Source: Distant Worlds, A New World

Square Enix Spin Up New Internal Studio


Square Enix
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.

Source: Gematsu

Final Fantasy XIV Concert at 2018 E3


E3 Expo
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.

Square Enix Hiring for Final Fantasy VII Remake in Tokyo


Final Fantasy VII
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

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