Chrono Cross - GamePro.com Interview, Fan Questions Part 2
Reprinted from GamePro
Questions about the CG cutscenes: How many people worked on it and how long did it take? What software were used (including the rendering) and was the majority of the animation motion captured? Were all the CG cutscene done by Square Visual Co.? -email@example.com
Motion capture was not used in this game. The director, Kato, and a number of others directed the cut scenes.
Hi, I would like to know if you used any new programs or computer equipment to make Crono Cross better than the other Squaresoft games like Final Fantasy VII & VIII. Thanks for your time. firstname.lastname@example.org
Since our programmers came from a different team than the FF VII or VIII programmers, Chrono Cross had a different technological approach. So, even if the results seemed somewhat similar, everything from the design to the coding was totally different. No shared (program) routines were used. One of the most innovative techniques we created and used was the variable frame-rate code, which we applied to the game to allow fast-forward and slow-motion play for the second (and any subsequent) play-through. It's a sophisticated technique that was impossible to implement in RPGs up until now. Also, to make use of memory beyond the hardware limits, some of the required data resources (memory) were read and used off of the CD (CD read swap). This was done to compensate for the limited memory capacity of the PlayStation, which has been a bottleneck on previous PlayStation games. For that purpose, a proprietary program was developed to allow super-fast disc access.
The translation team did an AWESOME job making the American translation just as intriguing as how I'm sure it is in its original form; were there any difficulties in doing so, more specifically in making certain all of the playable characters had believable and entertaining personalities? Michael Mahon email@example.com
Thank you for your praise, Michael. We are glad you liked our translation. Some of Chrono Cross's themes are quite deep and hard to translate. Then there is also getting the right balance of humor and keeping the style consistent among us three translators (particularly when I'm an Australian based in Tokyo, while Yutaka and Sammy are Japanese based in California).
But the biggest challenge with this project was that the characters' speech patterns had to be auto-generated, real-time by the program. The reason for this was that 40 or so different lines for each character would not fit into memory, so, for a large part of the game, we had to use one piece of common text and change it on the fly into all those funny accents, depending on which character was speaking. You can imagine coming up with different accents is hard enough (especially expressing them in text only). Working out a computer algorithm that can change one piece of text into multiple accents (with limited memory and speed constraints) was just mind-boggling. -Richard Honeywood Localization Director, translator & programmer for Chrono Cross
What types of college courses or software application programs, languages, etc. would you suggest be taken or learned for a student wishing to pursue a job in the gaming industry - especially for a company like Squaresoft? Blaze firstname.lastname@example.org
I don't believe it is necessary to select a specialized field. It doesn't matter if your major is science or literature. It's best that you go with what you are most interested in. Otherwise, you probably become bored, and you won't last long. It's more important to hone your sensitivity. Meet more people. See more things. I believe that experiencing many things matures your sense of balance. It's important to have a specialty, but you must learn how to take an impartial and objective view of things.
My question is this, has the traditional encounter/battle system of the Final Fantasy type been a necessity on the PlayStation hardware because of the use of a 3-D overworld map, (therefore making it hard/impossible to display roving enemies on the world map....), and did this affect your decision to go with the 2-D overworld and a more non-traditional encounter system? And if so, will these types of problems be a non-issue on the more powerful PS2 or even GameCube?
If there were no limit to the amount of memory in the hardware, then it would be possible to switch to battle without having to change to new battle scenes (i.e. a continuous battle system). However, this can only be possible depending on how you use the aforementioned limited memory capacity of the PlayStation. If the details could be left cheesy, then everything could be done in memory, but if we strive to achieve sophisticated and complex details, the necessary memory capacity will grow exponentially. There are a number of titles on the market that were compromised to work within this capacity. However, we went with an "if it's not available, then we'll increase it virtually" attitude (by using CD read swaps for memory) to achieve the high level of quality in FF and Chrono Cross. Of course, there will be tradeoffs for loading times, since CD reads will consume time, but I definitely didn't want to make a game (even if my life depended on it) that forced the player to watch "Now Loading" sequences over and over. The current load times (of CC) were designed to produce the best results while only needing a minimal amount of wait time to prevent boring the player. Since the memory map design concept will differ depending on what becomes the focal point, the need to use techniques like CD read swaps might happen even on newer hardware. If the goal is to achieve PlayStation quality on newer hardware, then everything can probably be done in memory, but on a PS2, the memory will probably be filled up to the limit easily, so it'll once again be a battle between time and disc reads. Although, there still might be plenty of methods to let the players not feel any of these waits.
So the idea is that, depending on what the game needs to express the most, a game will use an encounter system or a continuous battle sequence like Secret of Mana and Legend of Mana. Deciding how the limited amount of memory is going to be used is the most important part of game design.
Obviously, due to time constraints, budgets and other unforeseen difficulties, there were probably some things left out of Chrono Cross. Is there anything that you wished could have been included in the game that wasn't? Psychocatt email@example.com
Nothing in particular comes to mind.