Many of us who are gamers would probably have played at least one of the many titles in the Final Fantasy (FF) franchise over the years.
But most of us might also not realise that Malaysian talents, from the Kuala Lumpur-based Streamline Studios, actually had a hand in the highly anticipated next instalment in the series, Final Fantasy XV.
Speaking at the media preview session of the game, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) director of creative content and technologies Hasnul Hadi Samsudin shared that Streamline is just one of the many international games development studios that are establishing their presence here to tap on the vast amount of local talent in the industry.
The 200-strong Streamlines was one of the growing number of games development studios which worked on outsourcing jobs for the biggest videogames in the world. In this case in particular, Streamlines was tasked on debugging and other “high value assets” for FFXV, said Streamline Studios CEO Alexander Fernandez, but he stopped short on sharing further details on the collaboration.
Among previous triple A titles Streamline have worked on include Street Fighter V, Gears of War, and BioShock Infinite. Being able to work on the game was a personal milestone, according to Fernandez.
“I remember very much playing the Final Fantasy series ever since I was a kid and so being able to sit down and work on FFXV is a privilege and an honour.” Fernandez also credited the vast amount of local talent pool in the games industry as the main reason Streamline chose Malaysia as its home.
“Being able to work on this is awesome but at the same time it would not have been possible without the ecosystem in Malaysia, which MDEC and Hasnul have been working on for many years,” he said.
Also present at the session was the golden boy of the Malaysian games development industry Wan Hazmer. Based in Tokyo, Japan, Hazmer is the lead game designer at Square Enix, the developer of Final Fantasy.
“I am very very excited to be here, said Hazmer. “As a Malaysian who has worked at Square Enix for the past six years, I can’t believe I’m sitting right here as a Malaysian, representing a Japanese company to talk about the collaboration with a Malaysia-based company.” Hazmer’s area of work include the design of the in-game world and cities that gamers will journey to.
“I’ve tried to introduce Malaysian culture into the game as well,” he said giving the example of Pontianak and Orang Minyak (supernatural beings in Malaysia), but eventually the idea was rejected as they didn’t fit into the game. However, fans should be able to spot some familiar elements in the game, which will be released at the end of next month (Nov 29).
“There is a city in the game called Lestallum and for the first time in FF history you’ll see roti canai, satay and teh tarik in the game, with all the ‘pulling’ as well,” said Hazmer.
“Make sure you eat them when you are in the game,” said Hazmer cheekily.
“Instead of just creating Malaysia-related assets, we decided to go further and tap into the local games industry,” he said, which was how the collaboration with Streamline came about.
He said that the working culture at Square Enix is all about challenging the norm. “We always try to beat the previous Final Fantasy,” he said.
Hazmer, himself a huge fan of the franchise, named Final Fantasy VII as his favourite in the long running franchise.
Fernandez also echoed Hazmer, naming FFVII as his pick, which he played when he was 14 years old. Fernandez said that the game ultimately kickstarted his interest in games development and made up his mind to pursue a career in the industry.
Hasnul, on the other hand chose the more recent FFX.
Final Fantasy XV will be released worldwide on Nov 29 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
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