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GDC 2010: FFXIII Director Motomu Toriyama Reflects on Soundtrack

March 11, 2010 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook GDC 2010: FFXIII Director Motomu Toriyama Reflects on Soundtrackon Twitter

GDC is here! Well, it was actually here yesterday, but we’re just getting started with our coverage of the event. Yesterday we had the opportunity to speak with Final Fantasy XIII director and scenario writer Motomu Toriyama about his direction for the game’s music and his experiences working with Masashi Hamauzu on the project.

He shares with us his reasons for selecting Hamauzu to score the game, why they decided to replace the Japanese vocal theme with Leona Lewis’s track, and his final reflections on his time with Masashi Hamauzu before he left the company. It’s short, but sweet.

Check it out after the jump.

OSV: Hello Toriyama-san, thanks for speaking with us.  How was Hamauzu-san selected among all the composers at Square Enix and all the potential candidates outside of Square Enix to score Final Fantasy XIII?

Toriyama: I worked together with Hamauzu-san in the past on Final Fantasy X which featured many of his songs. Hamauzu-san’s strength is really in orchestration, so for Final Fantasy XIII with the development of a new kind of series, we really wanted to create something that would reflect that, and I felt his orchestral style would match that. Within the game, we added some rock elements, and with Cacoon, which is one of the game’s worlds that’s futuristic, we created some more futirisic sounds, so that matched very well with the game.

OSV: I know the game had an audio director, and you were responsible for the overall project, so I’m curious about your interactions with Hamauzu-san and your directions to him as he was writing the music, and how this differed with his interactions with the audio director.

Toriyama: It may be confusing in English,but the audio director you’re referring to was actually in charge of sound effects. I was actually responsible for directing the music and I worked directly with Hamauzu-san to create it. In terms of the cutscenes or the music to use for the dramatic elements or battles, I worked with Hamauzu-san directly.

OSV: It seems like the audio budget for Final Fantasy XIII was quite large with a live orchestra and a number of session players. I was hoping you could tell us about how you and Square Enix came to this agreement in terms of hiring an orchestra and all these session players, and how you think it came off with the final project.

Toriyama: So, in terms of budget, in all aspects of development, we don’t really discuss budgets. But as far as the current generation high-definition consoles, not only are the graphics much better, but so is the audio. So if we were to use a synthesizer to create the music on a computer, it would actually be more time consuming and probably more expensive and difficult as well. So it was actually easier to use live music and capture music through live sessions and orchestra. This offered not only a higher quality, but a faster turnaround time to create the music. So for Final Fantasy XIII, this was also the first time we included songs within the gameplay.

OSV: So I have to ask, the original vocal theme from the Japanese version of the game was replaced in Western releases with a track from Leona Lewis. Her track wasn’t written specifically for the game, but rather taken from her current album and placed in the game. Do you feel the song in Japan fits the game better because it was written specifically for the game? How do you feel about this substitution, and how did this decision come about?

Toriyama: In the past we had used either the Japanese song as-is, or had the songs done in English, but in order to give the game a wider global audience and appeal, this time around we decided to choose one of Leona’s song. I feel the song fits in very well with the Final Fantasy XIII story, and her song is something that appeals to a wider audience and is not only relatable to girls today, but also to Lightning’s story.

OSV: I feel that the Final Fantasy XIII soundtrack is one of the best in the series, and it’s the first time a Final Fantasy soundtrack has been released in the West at the same time as the game’s release via the Square Enix website. I’m wondering if the fact that Hamauzu-san has now left Square Enix, do you think he’s left a sort of legacy for fans in the West who will be playing this game and enjoying the soundtrack? Would you like to reflect on your experience working with him on this project?

Toriyama: I feel a certain degree of sadness because we worked together for so long, but for Hamauzu-san, he can use Final Fantasy as a stepping stone, and I believe he will really spread his wings moving forward. Composers in general at Square Enix have always been very free.

The soundtrack, in terms of releasing it at the same time as the game launch in the US, we changed some of the music to appeal more to fans here, so we hope you enjoy it!

OSV: Thank you very much.

[Special thanks to Jennifer Poulson for translating]

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