My interview with DotEmu, the studio behind many recent FINAL FANTASY ports

This month I was lucky enough to interview DotEmu, a French-based video game company founded in 2007. DotEmu have been working with Square Enix for many years now porting many classic FINAL FANTASY games to PC via Steam. Last year they also ported FINAL FANTASY VII to PlayStation 4, which was the third most downloaded PS4 title on the PlayStation Store in North America for December 2015. It also charted in Europe at #9. Their PC ports have also sold quite well according to SteamSpy.

In the interview I confirmed with them what Square Enix titles they have ported, who they worked with at Square Enix, what it’s like working with Square Enix and porting these classic games and more. Check it all out below. Big thanks to DotEmu’s CEO, Cyrille IMBERT for being kind enough to answer the questions, their Communication & Marketing Manager Jessica IRAGNE and the rest of the team at DotEmu.

Firstly, you ported Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, Final Fantasy V, Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII & Final Fantasy VIII to PC/Steam in addition to porting FFVII to PS4 correct? Have you worked on anything else for Square Enix? Perhaps FFVII for iOS? Are you also working on any of the upcoming Final Fantasy IX ports?

We had the great honor and pleasure of working with the Square Enix team on the following titles for Steam: FF3, FF4, FF4: TAY, FF6, FF7 and FF8. And for the first time in 2015 we worked on a console project with the port of FF7 on PS4.

As for now, even if we are still discussing with Square Enix, we are not working on any upcoming title/port.

Are you able to reveal any Square Enix staff you’ve worked with?

We worked mainly with the BD III of Square Enix, supervised by Shinji Hashimoto. They are a great team, one of our favorite clients and we always enjoy working with them.

Was Yoshinori Kitase (the director of FFVII & FFVIII) involved at all with your ports of Final Fantasy VII and VIII?

Mr. Kitase was not involved in our projects with Square Enix as far as we know.

The PC/Steam versions of Final Fantasy VII, VIII and the upcoming one for IX have had their graphics improved, such as higher quality character models. Can you please talk about about what was done for these ports? Would you consider them remasters?

What we did to improve the rendering on these titles (FFVII, FFVIII) was mainly to adapt the game to the latest resolutions and have the best full screen experience on the latest devices.

Some of your ports have included new features that perhaps were not included in the version you’re porting from. Eg. Final Fantasy VII on Steam does not include the high speed mode or no encounters mode that were later included in the iOS & PS4 ports. Are you able to talk about why this is?

Square Enix team is paying a lot of attention to its players and fans feedback on all their titles. The implementation of these new features is the result of that great policy, a better answer to players expectation that where detected on previous ports.

How do changes/additions in your ports get decided upon? Does Square Enix give you instructions and the assets and you just do it? Or are you able to make suggestions? I’m thinking of Final Fantasy III and IV in particular, I assume your ports are based off the Android versions? In your PC/Steam ports you’ve added the FMV introductions from the DS & PSP versions, a great idea I might add, just curious how this goes about.

Our work with Square Enix is closely supervised by their team and we always start the projects with a detailed scope. However, they are always open to suggestions and this is why working with them as always been so pleasant.

Yes, FFIII and FFIV are PC adaptations from the Android version. Square Enix is aiming for the best quality for these adaptation and the FMV of these versions (PSP&DS) was the most logical choice to achieve this.

Do you handle any or all the updates for ports you’ve developed?

Yes absolutely.

Do you have any idea why Final Fantasy VII has not been ported to Android yet?

We can’t answer for sure, but from our experience on similar titles, there are high chances that the performances optimization is the issue. Indeed, the large amount and variety of devices on Android are probably making the adaptation of FFVII way harder on that platform than on iOS.

The PC/Steam version of Final Fantasy VIII still includes the lower quality MIDI music. Final Fantasy VII did as well but was later patched. Any possibility of this happening for VIII?

We don’t have information about this.

What was it like porting FFVII to PS4? Would you like to port other Final Fantasy games to PS4 such as VIII & IX?

At DotEmu we are all huge fans of the license, and for all of us, FFVII is the main reference for JRPG and RPG in general. This game has brought so much to the genre in terms of game design, storyline, mechanics, etc. It has been an enormous honor for us to work on this particular title on this particular console. We were all so excited! hearing the mythical music from time to time in the studio, watching epic fights running on the latest PlayStation was always giving us chills. It was also a lot of pressure for us but even if Square Enix quality standards are very high, they have been very supportive and understanding all the way. It was a long and hard work but we are very proud of the result. We can’t thank Square Enix enough for letting us work on this title.

Of course, we would be more than happy to continue working with Square Enix on similar projects.

Do you get to tell Square Enix stuff you would like to do? Eg. “We would love to port [insert game] to [insert platform]”.

Absolutely, as explained before, the Team at Square Enix are always open to discuss ideas. They listen not only to us but to every fan suggestions.

What’s it like working with Square Enix to port all these classic games?

As explained in previous questions, working with Square Enix on these epic titles is not only a pleasure but also a huge honor for us. These games have taken an enormous part of our young gamer’s life before we started to work in the industry. Having the chance to actually work on them right now is a dream come true!

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