In the LIGHTNING RETURNS: FINAL FANTASY XIII Ultimania, Motomu Toriyama has revealed his original concept for the game. You can read it below thanks to a little microchu’s meadow.
Q6 – What kind of a concept did Toriyama-san suggest in the beginning?
Toriyama: The key words were “World Driven.” For this installment, I wanted to make it so the changes in the world around the player would alter their gaming experience. I also wanted to create a world that utilizes a network connection to loosely connect players and have them go about their business with the awareness that there are others out there. In the FF13 series, the first installment was “Story Driven”, the second was “Player Driven”, so with the world in mind, this time we went with “World Driven”. As such, we considered what would make for a good key element in a setup that drives the world. What came from that was the concept of “time”.
Abe: With that concept in mind, we had come up with the idea of time counting down and saving the world within that time limit, but the “Doomsday Clock” I happened to see on the news, was a big inspiration. I learned that the clock, depicted how close humanity was approaching extinction, and it would progress or regress based on the state of the world. I thought it was interesting. When I heard about the concept from Toriyama, what came to mind was that “world movement = time” and the fact that it was connected with the Doomsday Clock created the concept of “Time Management”
Kitase: Looking back at the FF13 Series, we heard that people wanted to be able to explore more freely since the first installment. As such, perhaps it was only right that we implemented the concept of Time Management, which would allow for players to freely decide how to progress.
Toriyama: However… [something about the countdown to the end of the world being hard on players that want to play at their own pace…]