Chrono Cross Development Team Interview and Contest
Reprinted from GamePro
1. How many people were involved in the creation of the game?
The development team itself reached a staff of 80 during our peak. In addition, the CG movie team consisted of 10 - 20 staff members, and QA had up to 100 testers per day.
2. How long did it take to finish the game from beginning to end?
The original Japanese version took one and a half years. Then the US version took about 3 months to translate and another 2 months to debug before we mastered up.
3. It is getting to the point where RPG games are beginning to resemble each other way too much. Do you think it is getting harder to be innovative when developing a game for this genre? What steps do you take to ensure that you're not just rehashing the same thing over and over?
To say the least, the titles we've worked on have been innovative, and I would like to continue this trend for our future projects. When creating a series, one method is to carry over a basic system, improving upon it as the series progresses, but our stance has been to create a completely new and different world from the ground up, and to restructure the former style.
Therefore, Chrono Cross is not a sequel to Chrono Trigger. Had it been, it would have been called "Chrono Trigger 2." Our main objective for Chrono Cross was to share a little bit of the Chrono Trigger worldview, while creating a completely different game as a means of providing new entertainment to the player. This is mainly due to the transition in platform generation from the SNES to the PS. The method I mentioned above, about improving upon a basic system, has inefficiencies, in that it's impossible to maximize the console's performance as the console continues to make improvements in leaps and bounds. Although essentially an RPG, at its core, it is a computer game, and I believe that games should be expressed with a close connection to the console's performance. Therefore, in regards to game development, our goal has always been to "express the game utilizing the maximum performance of the console at that time." I strongly believe that anything created in this way will continue to be innovative.
4. With Chrono Trigger (for SNES) considered a classic by many RPG players, was there a concern that not many references to the original are present in Chrono Cross? Were you concerned that you might alienate loyal fans of the original?
As I mentioned before, Chrono Cross is not a sequel to Chrono Trigger, so I'm not worried.
Of course, the fans of the original are very important, but what innovation can come about when you're bound to the past? I believe that gameplay should evolve with the hardware.
On a different note, the original scenario writer for Chrono Trigger, Masato Kato, worked on Chrono Cross's scenario as well, but actually, there's another game he worked on, called "Radical Dreamers," which was released between Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. This was an adventure game released on the Super Famicom online gaming system called the Satellaview. Radical Dreamers served as the bridge between Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. Gamers who have played all three games can probably figure out the connection, but since the media itself was so unique, I don't think many players know about it. As a result, we had to make sure players could play Chrono Cross without being too conscious of its connection to Chrono Trigger. This is why we have the title "Chrono Cross" instead of "Chrono Trigger 2."
5. The original Chrono Trigger seemed to leave little room for a sequel. Was the success of the original title unexpected?
I seem to be repeating myself, but Chrono Cross is simply a new title, and I believe there's always a risk when introducing something new to players. We're always striving to create the best product possible, so I believe the results will manifest in the end. If the end results are not favorable, we have to accept that, but as creators, we simply try do our best, leaving no room for regret.
6. What would the team like the players to experience as they play Chrono Cross?
We would like the players to intervene as much as possible with the flow of the game, and experiment with the various routes and possibilities. We believe we have incorporated quite a number of methods to deal with various situations, so there's no right or wrong way to go about the game. We hope the players get their money's worth by playing the game extensively.
7. On a system level, Chrono Cross forces the player to balance their magic and summon usage with physical attacks, is this a counter to the aggressive magic and summon systems found in Final Fantasy XIII?
Actually, I'm the one who incorporated the original summon magic system into Final Fantasy. At the time, summon magic was designed to be an "ace-in-the-hole" move because of its high MP casting cost. The battle system concept in FF VIII takes a totally different approach and is only similar in name. The system concept in Chrono Cross is also designed from a different perspective than the original FF, or the newer FF VIII or IX. Therefore, there was no conscious incorporation of any particular system from other recent titles when we designed the system for Chrono Cross.
Still, personally, I view the Motion Battle System of Secret of Mana as an extension of the battle system in the Japanese versions of FF I-III, and the battle system of Xenogears as its evolved form, which in turn continued to evolve into the battle system used in Chrono Cross. As a basis for this statement, all of the aforementioned titles use the FF III (and on) data tables for EXP and LevelUp acquisition. This may sound a bit contradictory to what has been mentioned up till now, but although the new world was created from the ground up, not everything was recreated from scratch. It is strictly a restructuring of the resources we have spent more than 10 years of efforts to effectively mature and perfect.
At the center of this evolution are improved expressive capabilities linked to advances in machine performance, the accompanying modifications to the interface, and the advances in gameplay. No major changes were applied to the nature of RPGs, which is the core of game balance. As for the balance of physical, magical, and summon attacks mentioned in your question, this was already incorporated in the aforementioned Secret of Mana and has gained a certain level of balance. This has been revised to achieve a higher level of refinement in the titles Secret of Mana 2 (not released in the US) and Xenogears.
8. Do you see room for a third chapter in the Chrono series?
There probably won't be any plans for a while. Our team is currently taking on new challenges, but there might be a sequel. We don't know if our team would be assigned to the title. If our team were to make a sequel, I think you can imagine from Chrono Cross that it will not be just a sequel, but something completely new.