Sakaguchi Hironobu, known as the Creator and Producer of Squaresoft's Final Fantasy Series, recently revealed new information regarding the progress of Final Fantasy XI. Although the ninth in the series is still weeks away from its North America release, and the tenth remains almost a complete mystery, it sounds as though production of the eleventh game in Square's flagship series is already well underway.
It is already known that Final Fantasy XI will mark a great departure from its predecessors. The second Final Fantasy title on the PlayStation2, it will be the first completely online massively-multiplayer entry into the series. At this point, many of the game world's locales are in varied stages of development, and Sakaguchi stated that "I played it with my coworkers, we walked through the forest, and it looked beautiful." The game's networking system is running, and is already connected through the company's local network, complete with chatting capabilities. Sakaguchi went on to comment on the future possibility of using cell phones to allow players further interaction with the online world, such as the ability to "open up your own store and see how well business is going."
As for the online service itself, players should have no problems with slowdown during the game, as it is planned to run smoothly even on 28k modems. A monthly fee will likely be imposed, similar to current PC networked titles. As well, the company may later use this online service to release add-ons and patches for new dungeons and game features. The game is currently in development for a simultaneous Japan and North America release on the PS2 and PC. Unfortunately, although he had hoped for one, Sakaguchi says that no Macintosh version is currently being worked on.
Sakaguchi also mentioned that the script for Final Fantasy: The Movie (recently subtitled "The Spirits Within") has entered into its second draft. Production in the studio is expected to be completed by May 2001, giving the film a projected summer release in North America.
Development in the Final Fantasy series is moving faster now than ever before, with the possibility of at least three games and one feature film in the course of less than a year. We will keep you updated as Final Fantasy progresses and evolves.