Some very interesting facts regarding Final Fantasy VII’s development process came up recently in the Japanese Weekly Famitsu magazine, as part of Final Fantasy VII’s 15th anniversary feature. Here’s the gist (beware of spoilers):
- There was a discussion about whether to use sprites or polygons for the character models. Sprites was the more popular option, but polygons were eventually chosen so that character movement could be expressed better.
- SD (Super Deformed) style for character models outside of battle were chosen by Hironobu Sakaguchi, who thought they were necessary to show character’s expressions better
- Sakaguchi put effort into the battle system and came up with the Materia system
- Tetsuya Nomura, aside from working on the characters’ designs, also contributed to gameplay, he was the one who came up with the Limit system
- Zack was added near the end of the development, after the other main characters had been fleshed out
- Nomura suggested that either Tifa or Aerith die
- Aerith was to be the sole heroine, Tifa was added later
- Cloud’s hair was originally slicked back to reduce polygon usage
- Originally, Sephiroth and Aerith were to be brother and sister
- Afterwards, Sephiroth was to be Aerith’s first love (eventually, that idea led to the creation of Zack)
These are all quite interesting. The sprites vs. polygons argument is visible in what Xenogears, the other big Square game developed in the same period, eventually became – visually, the opposite of FFVII – with sprites for the characters and 3D polygonal environments, as opposed to the polygonal characters in pre-rendered 2D environments seen in FFVII. Square obviously wanted to try the different styles and see which came out better. I’d say both were quite impressive in their own way.